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Coat of Arms

The name of the martyr St Cecilia, the patron Saint of musicians was particularly popular with the Normans and was introduced into England by them after the 1066 invasion. As a result of its popularity the original name developed into many nickname or petname spellings of which the most usual was "Ciss". From 'Ciss or Siss' developed patronymic spellings by adding the Anglo-Saxon 'Son', to give var.....

Heraldry Database: Macfarlane


Surname:  MacFarlane
Branch:  MacFarlane
Origins:  Scottish
More Info:  Scotland

Background:  The MacFarlanes are descended from Alwyn, Celtic Earl of Lennox, whose younger son, Gilchrist, received lands at Arrochar on the shore of Loch Long at the end of the twelfth century.

Motto:  This I'll Defend.
Battle Cry:  Loch Sloy.
Arms:  Argent, a saltire engrailed between four roses Gules.
Crest:  Crown being defended by a swordsman.
Supporters:  (on a wavy compartment) Two Highlanders armed with bows and arrows, all Proper.
Badge:  A demi-savage holding in dexter hand a sword and in sinister an imperial crown all proper.
Plant:  European Cranberry.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

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 the barons 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 equvalent 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 Gilchrist circa 1225.

Iain MacPharlain received a royal confirmation to Arrochar in 1420.

Duncan, the last Celtic Earl of Lennox was executed by James I.

Although the MacFarlanes had a valid claim to the earldom, the title was given by the Crown to John Stewart, Lord Darnley. The MacFarlanes sought to oppose the Stewarts, but they proved too powerful and Andrew MacFarlane the 10th Chief, married a younger daughter of Lord Darnley, 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.

Tea set gifted to a Glasgow merchant by Dr. William MacFarlane of that Ilk 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 gallantry at the Battle of Langside in 1568.

Andrew, 14th Chief, is said to have captured no less than 3 of Mary's 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. Since Mary had abdicated previously in favour of her infant son, she was 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 were outlawed. Later chiefs were quieter. They established homes on the islands of Inveruglas and Eilean a' Bhuth (now called Island I Vow). This last was burned out twice during the Cromwellian invasions in the 17th century.

Walter, the 20th Chief, (mid-18th Cent.) was a renowned scholar and antiquarian. At the site of his home now stands the Landmark Cobbler Hotel which contains an inscribed stone taken from the original house over the main doorway.

The clan lands at Arrochar were sold off for debt after Walter's death in 1767, and the direct male line of the chiefs failed in 1886. Walter MacFarlane of that Ilk and Arrochar, LL.D.

Memorial stone to the MacFarlane chiefs in the wall of the kirk at Luss.

Inscription: "After Death Remains Virtue."

At present, the Clan Chiefship is dormant.

Name Variations:  Allan, Allanach, Allanson, Allen, Allison, Bartholomew, Bartie, Bartleman, Bartlet, Bartlett, Barty, Bryce, Callander, Caw, Cunnison, Galbraith, Galbreath, Galloway, Gruamach, Kinnieson, Knox, Leaper, Leipper, Lennox, MacAindra, MacAllan, MacCaa, MacCause, MacCaw, MacCondach, MacCondy, MacEoin, MacErracher, MacFarlan, MacFarlane, MacGaw, MacGeoch, MacGreusich, MacGurk, MacInally, MacInstalker, MacIock, MacJames, MacKinlay, MacNair, MacNeur, MacNider, MacNiter, MacNuir, MacNuyer, MacParland, MacParlane, MacPharlan, MacRob, MacRobb, MacWalter, MacWilliam, Millar, Miller, Monach, Munnoch, Munnock, Napier, Parlan, Parlane, Robb, Smith, Spreull, Sproul, Stalker, Thomason, Weaver, Webster, Weir, Williamson, Wylie, Wyllie.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.

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