Of Clan Chiefs, Chieftains, Coat of Arms, and the Diaspora – a Redo with commentary from Dr. Bruce Durie and Chevalier Terrance Gach MacFarlane.
(Or as I would identify this as a “corrected copy")
I originally posted this a few days ago. It was initially received well, except for a couple of comments from those who we would expect to take umbrage with the information. They have since left our Clan MacFarlane Worldwide facebook page. But, because of the discourse that my blog stirred, our Clan MacFarlane Worldwide President, Laurie McFarland Jackson, thought it best to reach out to the experts for comment and clarification. We have Dr. Durie’s permission to publish his comments, that will be added, where appropriate, and without edits. Additionally, Terrance is our MacFarlane heritage expert (Along with Mary Helen Haines and Andrew MacFarlane), so I will also include the correct information about the lineage of the MacFarlane Clan Chief. Edits and additional comments will be noted with **.
Well, I must admit that I learn something new about the Scots just about every day. Recently, it was noted that someone had blogged that their husband was the “… current President and Chieftain of our clan…” which prompted some quick research to ensure that I hadn’t missed anything in the world of all things Clan MacFarlane. I was also about to write a short blog about Clan MacFarlane’s status as an armigerous clan, to mean we have no chief, etc. However, I have learned that this term is incorrect and created but a short 20 years ago by a couple of authors. Odd. Isn’t there a Council of Armigerous Clans? Yes. How does this stuff happen?
**To begin with, we heard from the young lady that she had been misquoted. Indeed, she told us:
“I never said he was THE Chieftain. I said he was A Cheiftain [sic]. Which he is under our charter and heraldry obtained from the Lord Lyon court of which CMW NO LONGER is part of. ICMS is the only true, legal Clan MacFarlane Society in the world today. And THAT is a fact.“… **
So, let me share some information that I have just recently been taught, and I’ll also include my own thoughts. My information comes by way of Dr. Bruce Durie, noted scholar, author, geneaologist, and much more. In fact, here are his credentials: BSc (Hons) PhD OMLJ FCollT FIGRS FHEA QG Genealogist, Author, Broadcaster, Lecturer Shennachie to the Chief of Durie Right of Audience at the Court of the Lord Lyon Academician, Académie internationale de généalogie. To say that he is my “go to” for definitive information on heraldry and all things dealing with Clan Chiefs, etc., is certainly a gross understatement.
** Per Dr. Durie upon reading the blog:
I read the Blog.
Apart from some minor spelling and other solecisms (Lyon Court rather than “Lord Lyon Court”, armigerous rather than “armigorous”, in the Noblesse of Scotland not “Noblest”) it makes the case well.
- The Lord Lyon will recognise a “Chief of Name and Arms” given the correct Proofs of lineage, or after a Family Convention. This has not yet happened for MacFarlane.
- Only a Chief can appoint a Chieftain or Chieftains.
- There is no such thing as “only true, legal Clan MacFarlane Society” or any such things. All Clan and Family Societies are membership clubs, and nothing more. They may or may not be bodies corporate, have 501c3 status or not, and so forth. Provided that body fits the laws and regulations of wherever it is based, it is presumably “legal”.
- No Lord Lyon would ever put himself in the position of recognising any such club as “only” or “official”. That means nothing.
- No club, society, etc. can claim to represent everyone of that name. I come across this a lot when, say, the Clan MacDribble Society contacts me and says “We, the Clan MacDribble Society, have decided that Angus MacDribble is to be our Chief. Kindly ask the Lord Lyon to recognise this and give him a Coat of Arms”. That sort of thing.
Well, there is a routine for that stuff (a Family Convention) and it has to be shown that there were extensive efforts to contact every MacDribble everywhere, whether they joined any particular club or society, or didn’t.
I have recently helped both MacAlpine and Currie to get a Commander, who after a period of maybe 5 to 10 years, may become Chief, or find another contender. (It took Buchanan 350 years, but they recently managed it!)
Those who try to “pack the deck” with their own Society members or whatever, get short shrift and are sent back down the snake to square one, where they have to start again and do it properly this time." **
First – Does Clan MacFarlane have a Chief? No – nope. Our last Clan Chief was Walter. He was the 20thClan Chief. He passed away in 1767, and since that time there has been speculation as well as research on the line. But no, we do not currently have a Clan Chief.
** - Per Chevalier Terrance Gach MacFarlane: Our last Clan Chief was William. It appears there were errors made by historians (James MacFarlane) that created an incorrect lineage. Terrance has provided the correct line. While I use the image of Walter MacFarlane (above - at least I BELIEVE this is a rendering of Walter), he was our 16th Chief. William was his twice-great grandnephew, the last Chief and the 20th Chief. (Born 1813, Died 1866). **
Second – Does Clan MacFarlane have a Chieftain? No – although I was once an “honorary chieftain” for the Highland Games in Wellington, Ohio. A Chieftain is expected to be recognized through the Lord Lyon Court. To date, this is not the case for Clan MacFarlane. There are currently 2 organizations in the United States under the name of Clan MacFarlane, and one in Australia. (There could be other organizations, but I am not aware of them at this time.) Both the Clan MacFarlane Society and the Clan MacFarlane Worldwide are incorporated in the United States. Clan MacFarlane Worldwide is a 501c3 corporation (non-profit), and the Clan MacFarlane Society, as of this writing, no longer holds the status as a 501c3 per the IRS. See the IRS Non-Profit website for MacFarlane.
So to the young woman proudly professing her husband to be the current President and Chieftain… I know that In my home state of Kansas, we can call ourselves anything we like (such as Minnie Mouse), but in the world of Scottish heraldry, this is taken quite seriously.
** Per Dr. Durie: “Without wishing to fall out with anyone, I’d be interested to see what proofs _____ has that _____ is “A Cheiftain. which he is under our charter and heraldry obtained from the Lord Lyon court”.
Charter – sure, if that’s what your Society Charter says, but people back in Scotland look askance at the assumption of such titles.
I could start calling myself “King of All the Bohemias”, but it wouldn’t mean much, and I doubt it would get me invited to tea at Holyrood Palace.
Heraldry – I like to see that.” **
Third – Are there official Clan MacFarlane Coat of Arms? Yes and No. Directing you to Dr. Durie’s website on acquiring an official and legal Coat of Arms, please see this link: http://www.brucedurie.co.uk/downloads/Heraldry-booklet.pdf
Also, how to acquire a corporate Coat of Arms information from the Society of Scottish Armigers: http://www.scotarmigers.net/info-leaflet-4.htm
In 1997, Clan MacFarlane Society, Incorporated, received their corporate Coat of Arms. The Certificate presented to Clan MacFarlane Society states “Know Ye Therefore the we have devised and Do By These Presents Assign, Ratify and confirm unto the Petitioners Clan MacFarlane Society, Incorporated the following Ensigns, Armorial as depicted upon the margin hereof, and matriculated of even date with These Presents upon the 22nd page of the 81st Volume of our Public Register of All Arms and bearings in Scotland, videlicet: -- Argent…. The said Society is, amongst all Nobles and in all Places of Honour, to be taken, numbered, and received as a Society Noble in the Noblest of Scotland…”
This is a copy of the Certificate available from a simple web search:
So, even as a corporation, you can be endowed with a Corporate Coat of Arms. Does this mean you are the one and only “official” organization? While it certainly is quite the achievement to have paid for the Corporate Arms, it is by no means an indication that you are the one and only official organization. In fact, the MacFarlane organization in Australia as well as Clan MacFarlane Worldwide can seek corporate arms, just like any corporation.
And as an aside, I am trained as an attorney in the United States. I was fortunate to work for Westlaw, a division of Thomson Reuters. I taught legal research to law students, faculty, staff and judges. That also provided me access to the laws of other countries. I did have access to court records from the Lord Lyon. I found it was interesting that as the Lord Lyon could “giveth” the Lord Lyon could also “taketh away.” Bad behavior could be reason for the Lord Lyon to rescind a Coat of Arms. Food for thought. Right?
So yes, the Clan MacFarlane can have a Coat of Arms, but it is a beautiful item that should be displayed quite visibly for all to see. However, it is not the “golden ticket” that some might have you think.
** Per Dr. Durie – “ Of course an organisation may petition to have a Coat of Arms from the Lord Lyon. The Trump Organisation in Scotland has Arms. I (or anyone else) could start a “Clan MacFarlane Club” tomorrow, and petition for Arms for the club. What is to stop me?
But the possession of Arms by some Surname Society confers no authority over anyone of that surname.
The other thing is use of Arms. If a Society has been granted Arms, well and good. If not, there is NO JUSTIFICATION for using “ancient Arms” or “previous Chief’s Arms” or any such thing.
Arms always belong to one person (or body) at a time, and cannot be assumed by anyone else.
If someone does become Chief of Name and Arms, those “Ancient Arms” will presumably be granted to that person.
Until then, no none is justified in reproducing them anywhere without a disclaimer such as “The Ancient Arms of the Chief of Name and Arms of MacSweatie, currently not held by anyone”." **
Finally – Let’s explore the Diaspora
I understand that some might refer to the Diaspora as something that connote only harsh times for the Scots. Connected with the history of the clearances of Scotland in the mid to late 18th century and forward in time, the word Diaspora can bring a sad feeling. Many families were torn apart and sent to the 4 corners of the world. For Scotland, that might be Ireland, Australia, the Colonies, and Canada. And indeed, it was harsh. https://www.britannica.com/event/Highland-Clearances But I prefer to look at the Diaspora as spreading of the wealth of the Scottish culture. Many of the founding fathers for the United States were Scotsmen.
Today, we welcome MacFarlanes who have reached out to CMW via facebook, from all corners of the globe. So I like the richness of the culture as it has spread to others and been shared across the globe. I have friends in South America, New Zealand, Japan, Spain as well as Scotland, Canada and more.
And the term Diaspora is not a term for just Scotland. Do a search online, and the Diaspora is used to discuss any culture that has been cast far and wide: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora
I chose the name “Diaspora” for our blog simply because I liked the idea that the Scottish culture had indeed been spread around the globe. And my hope is that as we continue to explore our culture, we can see the continued impact the Scots have had even in the far reaches of our world.
And with that…. We have answered all our questions:
No Clan Chief, No Clan Chieftain, We are not really armigerous, we just don’t have a Clan Chief. We can obtain a Coat of Arms, and that is an ongoing discussion for Clan MacFarlane Worldwide, and perhaps the Society in Australia. And finally, we are all part of the Diaspora with our feet across the globe and our hearts in Scotland.
Steve and I are living in an "adults only" community of RVs, so unfortunately, I will not be able to enjoy the little kids in costumes this year. I won't get to hear the doorbell ring, and I won't get to hand out candy to kids holding onto their plastic pumpkin basket. But, I can remember my own Halloween runs at the neighbohood for the haul of candy that would last several weeks as my mother doled it out slowly.
My favorites were, of course, Baby Ruth, Mr. Goodbar, Butterfinger, and bubble gum. Although I am well past my 50's, those were the candies of choice for me many moons ago. There are other candies, of course. Someone just posted something to facebook about the little wax bottle of coca cola. There were fizzy straws, Necco's, Mary Jane candy, Milk Duds, Bonamo taffy, and suckers with safety handles (not sure what made them any safer than any other lollipop or sucker, but that was what they were called). There were Popcorn balls and chiclets. I would collect little rolls of lifesavers and Sweetarts along with rootbeer barrels, lots and lots of Tootsie rolls in a variety of sizes, little boxes of raisinettes and goobers, candy corn in little clear packets, and jaw breakers. I broke my jaw as a 4-year-old from my dare devil days on a tricycle, so I have always been a bit leery of jawbreakers...
And the list could go on. Long before Willy Wonka candy appeared, the variety of what we collected from the neighborhood was always such a joy. I think I actully learned simple addition and subtraction with. my Halloween haul. "If I have 4 Tootsie rools, and I steal 2 more from my sister, Martha, won't I now have 6?!"
I have lived overseas and I know that the candy from country to country is not the same. So what about the old favorites of children in Scotland? I found a great website that not only describes all the candy for children, but provides nice photos of each one: "11 Sweets You'll Remember if You Grew up in Scotland" provides a very nice list of the candies I've never heard of:
1. Wham Bar
2. Highland Toffee Bar
3. Creamola Foam (like our fizzy sticks - filled with a powder you dropped in water to make a fizzy drink)
4. Cola Cubes (hard candy)
5. Irn Bru Bar
6. Sherbert Fountain (comes with a licorice stick to allow the child to suck the contents out of the bag that looks very much like a stick of dynamite)
7. Chocolate Cigarettes (Oh! We had these. My parents forbid me from having these... I suppose they thought I would pick up a nasty habit. I also think ours had a ton of powdered surgar enclosed so that you could blow smoke out of your mouth after you sucked into your mouth whatever was in it.)
8. Soor Plooms
9. Love Hearts (We have these at Valentine time. You know the ones with sweet little sayings on them.)
10. Bon Bons
11. Pop Rocks - Ummm... the article shows something called "Fizz Wiz" that is supposed to be sweet and produce very loud noises. I have never experienced anything like this. But there was that one time (not in band camp), my sister, Vashti, and I were commuting to law school. Vashti was driving her car, and I spied a tin can of bubble gum in the back seat. Obviously, this was her kids' gum, but I thought we should share her kids' gum for entertainment, so Vashti took a green gum ball, and I took a blue one. It was yummy! The gum lasted almost the entire 40-minute drive to class. Then in an effort to tidy my not-so-tidy hair, I used the mirror and discovered my lips were blue. My teeth were blue. My tongue was certainly blue. I checked with Vashti, and she was a mirror image of me, but in the color green. We had a great laugh at how ridiculous we looked, and then realized we were scheduled to speak in one of our classes.... perhaps NOT a great time to explore with her kids' gum balls from a tin can!
Well, no matter the haul of candy the kids will get this season, I know that children everywhere are just waiting for the sun to lower today so they can "hit the road" with their plastic pumpkin. As for me and the other adults in my little neighborhood, I was warned that there is some goofy woman travels in her personal golf cart, going door-to-door asking for a "touch" of something for her highball glass. Geesh... I haven't heard the term "highball" in a very long time.
I'm certainly getting older. I guess I better find a bottle of Whisky for later tonight... or just leave our light off.
Kilts and Cowboy Boots
Gathering of the Clans
Can you hear it? The battle cry of your clansmen? The call for help defending their honor? The weeping? Can you hear the Call?
If you attend the San Antonio Highland Games in April 2020, you will hear the Call! There will be a historic battle to the last tartan pleat. Clans Colquhoun, MacFarlane, MacGregor, and Scott will be combatants against each other. Professional athletes will retire while Clan teams battle for bragging rights on the field in tug-of-war, backward sheaf toss, rustling of the “coos” competitions. Come and support your Clan claim the championship maug. Click to register (opens October 14th)
Clan drinks reception with Participant Clans and Clan Chiefs
Clan Scottish Heritage Quiz Competition
Tales of Our Heritage by Guest Speakers
San Antonio Highland Games including *Clan Battle with Clan MacGregor, Clan Scott and Clan MacFarlane on the games field.
*Hand to hand combat, tug-o-war, wheat sheaf hurling.
Clan Dinner and Reception at Pedrotti’s NORTH WIND Ranch