MacFarlane name origin
History & Heritage
Discover the captivating history of Clan MacFarlane, one of Scotland’s earliest clans with feudal charters, tracing their roots to the Celtic Earl of Lennox and their pivotal role in Scotland’s fight for independence. Explore the intriguing origins of the MacFarlane name, from Gaelic variations to its connection with pre-Gaelic languages. Learn how the Plantation of Ulster influenced the clan’s name variations. Plus, find out how the International Clan MacFarlane Society and Clan MacFarlane Heritage Trust work to preserve this rich heritage.
The MacFarlanes, one of Scotland’s most historic clans, have a rich and storied history that dates back centuries. They were among the earliest clans to hold their lands through feudal charters, and their roots can be traced back to Alwyn, the Celtic Earl of Lennox. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the fascinating history of the MacFarlanes and explore the origins of their name.
Descendants of Gilchrist
The MacFarlanes’ story begins with Gilchrist, the younger son of Alwyn, who received lands at Arrochar on the shores of Loch Long at the end of the 12th century. It was here that the MacFarlane clan would take root and leave an indelible mark on Scottish history. Malduin, the son of Gilchrist, played a crucial role in the fight for Scotland’s independence, as he befriended and aided Robert the Bruce during this pivotal period. The MacFarlanes are even reported to have fought alongside Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The clan derives its name from Malduin’s son, Parlan.
Unveiling the Origins of the Name
The name Pàrlan has sometimes been linked to that of Partholon, “Spirit of the Sea-Waves,” in Irish myth. However, the truth of this is highly unlikely. Accurately, it is considered the Gaelic equivalent of “Bartholomew.” Gaelic grammar requires changes within a word to indicate possession. A “P” is softened to “Ph” and an “I” is added to the last syllable. In this, “son of Pàrlan” becomes Mac (son) Phàrlain (Pàrlan). Variant spellings occurred when scribed to write the name phonetically.
Name Variations: From Mac Phàrlaine to MacFarlane
The proper Gaelic spelling of the name is “Mac Phàrlaine,” which translates to “MacFarlane” in English. Various name variations have emerged over time, often due to scribal errors or regional influences. One such variant is “MacFarland,” which was documented in a Charter of Confirmation in 1543, belonging to Duncanus Makfarland de Arrochquhar, the 13th Chief of the clan. These variations persisted over the years, with records mentioning “Umfrido Makfarland,” the younger son of Andrew, the 14th Chief, in 1596.
The Influence of the Plantation of Ulster
The Plantation of Ulster in 1608 marked a significant turning point in the MacFarlane name’s evolution. Many MacFarlanes left Scotland during this period to seize the opportunities presented in Ulster, Ireland. It was during this time that the “M’Farlands” in Ireland began using the spelling that was in vogue at the time of the plantations. This divergence in spellings eventually led to variations such as “Macfarlan” and “Macfarland.”
Preserving MacFarlane Heritage
In conclusion, the MacFarlanes’ history and name variations provide a fascinating glimpse into the intricate tapestry of Scottish clan heritage. From their noble origins to the influence of historical events, the MacFarlane clan’s story continues to captivate those with an appreciation for Scotland’s rich history.
The International Clan MacFarlane Society, founded in 1911 and reestablished in 1973, plays a vital role in preserving the rich heritage of the MacFarlane clan. Recognized by the Court of the Lord Lyon, the society received a grant of arms in 2000. Additionally, the Clan MacFarlane Heritage Trust – Scotland Scottish Charity # SC032498, established by the International Clan MacFarlane Society, is dedicated to safeguarding the legacy and history of the MacFarlanes for generations to come.