The immediate ancestor of the Farquharsons of
Invercauld, the main branch, was Farquhar or Fearchard, a son of Alister "Keir"
Mackintosh or Shaw of Rothiemurchus, grandson of Shaw Mor. Farquhar, who lived in the
reign of James III, settled in the Braes of Mar, and was appointed baillie or hereditary
chamberlain thereof. His sons were called Farquharson, the first of the name in Scotland.
His eldest son, Donald, married a daughter of Duncan Stewart, commonly called Duncan Downa
Dona, of the family of Mar, and obtained a considerable addition to his paternal
inheritance, for faithful services rendered to the crown.
Donald's son and successor, Findla or Findlay, commonly called from his great size and
strength, Findla Mhor, or great Findla, lived in the beginning of the sixteenth century.
His descendants were called MacIanla or Mackinlay. Before his time the Farquharsons were
called in Gaelic, clan Erachar or Earachar, the Gaelic for Farquhar, and most of the
branches of the family, especially those who settled in Athole, were called MacEarachar.
Those of the descendants of Findla Mhor who settled in the Lowlands had their name of
Mackinlay changed into Finlayson.
Findla Mhor, by his first wife, a daughter of the Baron Reid of Kincardine Stewart, had
four sons, the descendants of whom settled on the borders of Braemar, and some of them in
the district of Athole.
His eldest son, William, who died in the reign of James IV, had four sons. The eldest,
John, had an only son, Robert, who succeeded him. He died in the reign of Charles II.
Robert's son, Alexander Farquharson of Invercauld, married Isabella, daughter of William
Mackintosh of that ilk, captain of the clan Chattan, and had three sons.
William, the eldest son, dying unmarried, was succeeded by the second son, John, who
carried on the line of the family. Alexander, the third son, got the lands of Monaltrie,
and married Anne, daughter of Francis Farquharson, Esq. of Finzean.
The above-mentioned John Farquharson of Invercauld, the ninth from Farquhar the founder of
the family, was four times married. His children by his first two wives died young. By his
third wife, Margaret, daughter of Lord James Murray, son of the first Marquis of Athole,
he had two sons and two daughters. His elder daughter, Anne, married Eneas Mackintosh of
that ilk, and was the celebrated Lady Mackintosh, who, in 1745, defeated the design of the
Earl of Loudon to make prisoner Price Charles at Moy castle. By his fourth wife, a
daughter of Forbes of Waterton, he had a son and two daughters, and died in 1750.
His eldest son, James Farquharson of Invercauld, greatly improved his estates, both in
appearance and product. He married Amelia, the widow of the eighth Lord Sinclair, and
daughter of Lord George Murray, lieutenant-general of Prince Charle's army, and had a
large family, who all died except the youngest, a daughter, Catherine. On his death, in
1806, this lady succeeded to the estates. She married, 16th June 1798, Captain James Ross,
R.N. (who took the name of Farquharson, and died in 1810), second son of Sir John Lockhart
Ross of Balnagowan, Baronet, and by him had a son, James Farquharson, a magistrate and
deputy-lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, representative of the family.
There are several branches of this clan, of which we shall mention the Farquharsons of
Whitehouse, who are descended from Donald Farquharson of Castleton of Braemar and
Monaltrie, living in 1580, eldest son, by his second wife, of Findla Mhor, above
Farquharson of Finzean is the heir male of the clan, and claims the chieftainship, the
heir of line being Farquharson of Invercauld. His estate forms nearly half of the parish
of Birse, Aberdeenshire. The family, of which he is representative, came originally from
Braemar, but they have held property in the parish for many generation. On the death of
Archibald Farquharson, Esq. of Finzean, in 1841, that estate came into the possession of
his uncle, John Farquharson, Esq, residing in London, who died in 1849, and was succeeded
by his third cousin, Dr Francis Farquharson. This gentleman, before succeeding to Finzean,
represented the family of Farquharson of Balfour, a small property in the same parish and
county, sold by his grandfather.
The Farquharsons, according to Duncan Forbes "the only clan family in
Aberdeenshire", and the estimated strength of which was 500 men, were among the most
faithful adherents of the house of Stuart, and throughout all the struggles in its behalf
constantly acted up to their motto, "Fife et Fortitidine". The old motto of the
clan was. "We force nae friend, we fear nae foe". They fought under Montrose,
and formed part of the Scottish army under Charles II at Worcestor in 1651. They also
joined the forces under the Viscount of Dundee in 1689, and at the outbreak of the
rebellion of 1715 they were the first to muster at the summons of the Earl of Mar.
In 1745, the Farquharsons joined Prince Charles, and formed two battalions, the one under
the command of Farquharson of Monaltrie, and the other of Farquharsons of Balmoral; but
they did not accompany the Prince in his epedition into England. Farquharson of Invercauld
was treated by government with considerable leniency for his share in the rebellion, but
his kinsman, Farquharson of Balmoral, was specially excepted from mercy in the act of
indemnity passed in June 1747.
Another Account of the Clan
BADGE: Lus nam braoileag (vaccineum
vitis idea) Red whortleberry.
SLOGAN: Cairn na chuimhne.
IT is said of an Earl of Angus, chief of the great
house of Douglas, in the days of James V., that at Douglas Castle, far
in the Lanark fastnesses of Douglasdale, he laughed at the threats of
Henry VIII. of England. "Little
knows my royal brother-in-law," he said, "the skirts of
Cairntable. I could keep myself here against all his English host."
With much more justification might the Farquharson chiefs of bygone
centuries have laughed at the threats of their most powerful enemies.
Upper Deeside, which was their clan country, was so surrounded with a
rampart of the highest mountains in Scotland, and so narrow and few were
the approaches to it
through the defiles of the hills, that even the kings of Scotland them
selves must have hesitated to attack so formidable a fastness.
In the earliest times, as it
is to-day, Upper Deeside
was a favourite resort of royalty. Just as Queen Victoria and King
Edward and King George have made their way thither in the autumns of
more recent years, for the hunting and the fishing and other Highland
delights which the district affords in royal abundance, the early
Scottish kings are said to have resorted thither in their time. Craig
Coynoch, or Kenneth, is said to take its name from the fact that from
its summit in the ninth century Kenneth II. was wont to watch the chase;
and not far off, at the east end of the bridge over the Cluny, stood
Kindrochit Castle, the residence of Malcolm Canmore and later kings,
from which the neighbouring village took its name of Castletown of
Braemar. Among other traditions of royal visits at that time the great
Highland Gathering still held here each autumn is said to have been
founded by the mighty Malcolm, who offered a prize of a purse of gold,
with a full suit of Highland dress and arms, to the man who could first
reach the top of Craig Coynoch. Here Clan Farquhar, or Finlay, has been
settled from the days at least of King Robert the Bruce.
According to tradition and
family history the chiefs of the Farquharsons were lineally descended from
the great ancient Thanes of Fife. They emerge into the limelight of
history early in the fourteenth century in the person of a redoubtable
Shaw MacDuff of Rothiemurchus. It was the time when the great house of
Comyn, previously all-powerful in many quarters of Scotland, was going
down before the might of the Bruces, their junior competitors for the
Scottish crown. The Comyn chiefs had their headquarters in Badenoch, and
Shaw MacDuff with his followers performed prodigies of valour in driving
them out of that country. As a reward King Robert the Bruce is said to
have appointed him hereditary chamberlain of the royal lands of Braemar,
about the upper waters of the Dee, on the other side of the Cairngorms
from his original patrimony. Here ever since, with vicissitudes more or
less dramatic and romantic, the Farquharson chiefs have remained settled.
The son of Shaw MacDuff,
founder of the family, was a certain Fearchar who lived in the reigns of
Robert II. and III. From him the clan takes its name of Mac’earchar, or
Farquharson. He married a daughter of Patrick MacDonachadh, ancestor of
the Robertsons of Lude. His son Donald also married a Robertson, of the
family of Calveen; and his son again, another Fearchar, married a daughter
of Chisholm of Strathglas. This Fearchar left a large family, several of
whom settled in the Braes of Angus, and became ancestors of respectable
families there. From Finlay Mor, the grandson of this Fearchar, the clan
took its name of Finlay, otherwise MacKinlay or Finlayson.
The clan was a member of
the great Highland confederacy of Clan Chattan, and of course played a
part in the many feuds in which that confederacy was embroiled. Constantly
in those early days the Croistarich, or Fiery Cross, was sent hurrying
through these glens of the Upper Dee, and brought the Farquharson clansmen
racing hotfoot to their immemorial gathering-place at the foot of Glen
Feardar, where still stands their famous "Cairn of Remembrance,"
Cairn-a-Quheen. As late as the end of the eighteenth century, according to
the writer of the Old Statistical Account, " Were a fray or a
squabble to happen at a market or any public meeting, such influence has
this word over the minds of the country people that the very mention of
Cairn-na-cuimhne would in a moment collect all the people in this country
who happened to be at said meeting to the assistance of the person
The Cairn of Remembrance is
said to have had its origin in a curious custom of the clan. Each man, as
he came to the gathering-place at the summons of his chief, brought with
him a stone, which he laid down a little way off. On returning after the
raid of battle each survivor lifted a stone and carried it away. The
stones which were left were then counted and added to the cairn. In this
way the number of the dead was ascertained. Each stone on the great heap,
therefore, represents a Farquharson who fell long ago in some one of these
The slogan of Cairn-a-Quheen
played its part in rousing the clan not only in many of the local clan
feuds, but in not a few of the great battles of the country. Finlay Mor,
already referred to, carried the royal standard at the battle of Pinkie,
where he fell with many of his clan in 1547. From this fact Finlay Mor’s
second son Donald got the name of Mac-an-Toisach, or "son of the
leader." From him descended the Farquharsons of Finzean, who, on the
death without male issue of James Farquharson, tenth chief in succession
from Fearchar, son of Shaw, succeeded to the chiefship of the clan. The
present Farquharsons of Invercauld are descended from Catherine, the
surviving daughter and heiress of this house, who was known, in Scottish
fashion, as Lady Invercauld. This lady married Captain Ross, R.N., who
again, by the custom of Scotland, took the name of the heiress, and so
handed on the ancient name of the Farquharson chiefs.
When the civil wars between
Charles I. and his English and Scottish Parliaments broke out, towards the
middle of the seventeenth century, the Farquharsons were from the first on
the side of the king. The National Covenant was signed in 1638 as a
protest against the king’s attempts to force the English Liturgy upon
Scotland. To this Covenant the Farquharsons were opposed, and Donald
Farquharson of Monaltrie raised several hundreds of the clan and joined
the Gordons who were defending the town of Aberdeen against the Earl of
Montrose, who was then leader of the Parliament troops on the side of the
Covenant. Six years later Montrose, who had refused to sign the second or
Solemn League and Covenant, of 1643, and who was now a Marquess, took up
arms on the side of the King and was joined by the Farquharsons "with
a great number of gallant men." Later, in 1651, when Montrose had
perished on the scaffold, and the young Charles II. had come to Scotland
to make a bid for the throne of his ancestors, the Farquharsons joined
that prince, and, following him to England, took part in the battle of
Worcester, where he was defeated.
Fifteen years later
there occurred on Deeside an incident which illustrates well the fierce
spirit which still survived among the gentlemen of the clan at that time.
The event is commemorated in the well-known ballad, "The Baron o’
Brackley," and the leading personages were John Gordon of Brackley,
near Ballater, and John Farquharson of Inverey, above Braemar. According
to the Gordons Brackley had, in execution of legal warrant, poinded some
of Farquharson’s cattle. Thereupon Farquharson raised his followers,
marched down to Brackley, and proceeded to drive away both his own and
Gordon's cattle. Upon Brackley sallying forth to prevent this, the
Farquharsons fell upon him and slew him and his brother. The ballad makes
out that Brackley and his brother were the only men in the house, and that
they sallied out as a result of the taunts of Brackley’s wife, a
daughter of Sir Robert Burnet of Leys, who forthwith engaged in a
shameless liaison with Farquharson. The ballad concludes:
O fy on you, lady! how
could ye do sae?
You opened your yetts to the fause Inverey.
She ate wi’ him,
drank wi’ him, welcomed him in;
She welcomed the villain that slew her baron.
She kept him till
morning, syne bade him be gane,
And shawed him the road that he shouldna be ta’en.
"Through Birss and
Aboyne," she said, "lyin’ in a tour,
Ower the hills o’ Glentanar you’ll skip in an hour."
There is grief in the
kitchen, and mirth in the ha’;
But the Baron o’ Brackley is dead and awa’.
For this deed Inverey was
prosecuted, and lay in outlawry for many years. He is said to have been
fierce, daring, and active, and is remembered on Deeside as "the
When the revolution
took place the Farquharsons turned out, Inverey among them, and joined
Viscount Dundee. After the battle of Killiecrankie, in which Dundee fell,
Inverey had again to go into hiding. On this occasion his castle was
burned and he himself only escaped in his shirt. His hiding-place, still
known as the Colonel’s Cave, may be seen in a glen above the village of
The Farquharson country,
however, was presently to see a still greater and more famous event. About
the end of the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, the Farquharsons had effected
an excambion with the Earl of Mar, by which they exchanged the Haugh of
Castletown, near Braemar, for the lands of Monaltrie farther down the
valley. Soon after this transaction the Earl built on the haugh the
stronghold now known as Braemar Castle. After the battle of Killiecrankie
King William’s government placed a garrison in this stronghold to keep
the country in subjection; but the clansmen rose, besieged the place,
forced the soldiers to retire under cover of night, and, to prevent a
similar encroachment in the future, burnt the Castle. The Earl, however,
had it restored, and it was here that In 1715, insulted by the new
Hanoverian king, George I., he summoned the Highland chiefs for the great
hunting party at which the rising in favour of James VII. and II. was
planned. Braemar Castle was crowded to overflowing on that occasion, and
the principal meetings were held at the neighbouring house of the
Farquharson chief Invercauld. It was accordingly from the dining-room at
Invercauld, still preserved in the modern mansion, that the fiery cross
was sent through the glens preparatory to the raising of that
"standard on the Braes of Mar," on the little mount in
Castletown at hand which was to mean so much of sorrow and disaster for
the clans and their chiefs. As an immediate result in this neighbourhood,
Braemar Castle was again burned by Argyll’s forces in 1716, after the
battle of Sheriffmuir.
Meanwhile the Farquharsons
had formed part of Mar’s army which, under Brigadier Mackintosh, was
thrown across the Forth, and marched into England as far as Preston. A
noted figure on that march was Fearchar gaisgach liath, "the Grey
Warrior." This hero had taken part as a lad with the Marquess of
Montrose in the Jacobite victories of 1645, and he lived to see his last
remaining son fall, and the hopes of the Jacobites extinguished, at the
battle of Culloden a hundred years later. After that event, at the extreme
age of 115, he wandered the country, desolate and forlorn, visiting the
graves of those who had fallen in the last conflict, and known far and
near by the name above given him. On the way into England in 1715 in the
attempt to defend the house of a widow from plunder from a band of
Lochaber men he received a wound, but this did not prevent him going on
with the expedition.
At Preston, when Brigadier
Mackintosh and the little Jacobite army found itself on the eve of being
attacked by Major-General Willis and the Government troops, John
Farquharson of Invercauld, at the head of a hundred chosen Highlanders,
took up position at the long narrow bridge over the Ribble, and there is
little doubt he would have made good its defence against his assailants
long enough to afford the Jacobites time to effect their retreat. His
force was, however, recalled, and the calamitous surrender of the little
Jacobite army in the town soon followed.
The Farquharsons were again
out at the rising of 1745. They were mainly instrumental in defeating the
Macleods at Inverury, and gave an excellent account of themselves at the
battles of Falkirk and Culloden. The disastrous issue of the rising at the
latter battle brought sorrow and ruin to many of the clan. After that
event, Charles Farquharson, the "Meikle Factor of the Cluny,"
was forced to take refuge in the cave known as the Charter Chest, in the
face of Craig Cluny above Invercauld. It was the place in which the chiefs
in time of danger were wont to conceal their most precious possessions,
and so secure was the spot that for ten months Farquharson lay concealed
in it while his house, within earshot below, was occupied by soldiers of
Evidently the Government
was impressed by the need for laying a strong hand on the Farquharson
country. About 1720 the forfeited Mar estates had been purchased from
Government by Lords Dun and Grange, the latter being a brother of the Earl
of Mar. Ten years later, however, Farquharson of Invercauld had purchased
the lands of Castletown from these owners. About 1748 he leased Braemar
Castle, with fourteen acres about it, to the Government for ninety-nine
years at a rental of £14, and they proceeded to repair the house, build a
rampart around it, and place a garrison within its walls. Four years later
that shrewd and intrepid pacifier of the Highlands, General Wade, carried
his great military road through Deeside, and in the course of doing so
built across the Dee what is now known as the Old Bridge of Invercauld.
But there were to be no
more Jacobite rebellions, and from that day to this the Farquharson
country on Deeside has remained in steady repute as a peaceful and
lawabiding district. The days were over when the laird of Invercauld could
undertake, for the payment of certain blackmail by the city of Aberdeen,
to keep three hundred men in arms for the landward protection of the
burgesses. Successive chiefs have devoted themselves to the extensive
improvement of their estates. In the first half of the nineteenth century
one of them, in the course of a long possession, planted no fewer than
sixteen million fir trees and two million larch on his estates, besides
building as much as twenty miles of good roads throughout the
neighbourhood; and since the coming of the Royal family to the
neighbouring estate of Balmoral in 1848 Invercauld has seen the constant
entertainment of Royalty itself. Among other alliances, the Farquharson
chiefs have twice inter-married with the ducal house of Atholl.
While there have been many
distinguished cadet houses of the clan, it should be noted that a number
bearing the name in the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray are in
reality descendants of the Comyns, having changed their name after the
final overthrow of their house, and adopted that of Farquharson as
descendants of Fearquhard, son of Alexander, the sixth laird of Altyre.
Septs of Clan Farquharson:
Coutts, Farquhar, Finlay, Finlayson, Greusach, Hardie, Hardy, Lyon,
MacCaig, MacCardney, MacCuaig, MacEarachar, MacFarquhar, Machardie,
MacKerracher, MacKerchar, Mackinlay, Reoch, Riach.
Thanks to James
Pringle Weavers for providing the following information
FARQUHARSON: This branch of Clan Chattan descend from Farquhar, 4th son of Alister Ciar Mackintosh, 3rd Shaw of Rothiemurchus during the 15th century. His son Donald married Isobel Stewart heiress of Invercauld and from their son Finlay Mor, killed in battle at Pinkie in 1547 while carrying the Royal Standard, derives the patronymic, "Mac Fhionnlaigh"(son of Finlay), borne by subsequent Chiefs. In the period 1435-1565 the lands of Invercauld were part of the Earldom of Mar and held by the crown, and it was not until the next century that the clan acquired their right of tenure to these lands. In their continuing loyalty to the House of Stewart, the Clan followed Charles II to Worcester in 1651, and fought for Viscount Dundee in 1689. They were part of the Clan Chattan Regiment in the Jacobite Rising of 1715, in which they fielded 4 officers and 140 men, but when the Chief, owing to his advanced years, did not take part in the '45 Rising the clan was led by the "Baron Ban", Francis Farquharson of Monaltrie. Monaltrie was taken prisoner at Culloden and removed to London where he escaped the gallows by being pardoned on the eve of his execution. The Invercauld inheritance passed through the female line in 1806 when the Lord Lyon recognised Catherine Farquharson as chief of the clan - despite the House of Inverey (said to be descended from the eldest son of Finlay Mor), being senior in the direct male line. In 1936 chiefship again passed through the female line when Mrs Myrtle Farquharson was awarded the ensigns of chiefship by Lyon Court. She was killed during an air-raid in 1940 and the succession passed to her nephew, the present Chief. Noted cadets included the House of Inverey, of whom John, the 3rd Laird, remains in Deeside legend as 'The Black Colonel', and the lineages of Allargue, Balmoral, Breda, Finzean, and Whitehouse. Many MacKinlays also claim Finlay Mor as an ancestor - particularly those of 'The Annie' in Perthshire, ancestors of President MacKinley of the U.S.A. Finlaysons in Lochalsh claim similar descent, as do many who settled in the Lowlands.