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Sep 25 14

Scottish Valuation Rolls for 1875

by Glenda Dickson

ScotlandsPeople have just announced that the Valuation Rolls (VR) for 1875 are now available on their website.  More importantly, the index is FREE TO SEARCH and can be browsed free of charge until 31st December 2014.

The Valuation Rolls for 1875 will enable a search (by name and address) for property owners, tenants and occupiers across the whole of Scotland.  This can often reveal valuable information about the years between Census records.

You can find out more about the release of the Valuation Rolls here.



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Sep 24 14

Beechworth Celtic Festival, Victoria 7th-9th November 2014

by Glenda Dickson

From Friday 7th through to Sunday 9th November 2014, the historic town of Beechworth in central Victoria will celebrate all things Celtic. The program will include live music, theatre, dancing, comedy, village markets, pipe bands and a street parade. To read more about this upcoming event, please click on the following link:

Beechworth Celtic Festigval

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Sep 16 14

Anita’s Travels (Part One) – From Dublin to Derry

by Glenda Dickson

In the September issue of MacFarlane’s Lantern (No. 131) is the first part of a report by our Membership Secretary, Anita Renfrey on her recent tour of Ireland and Scotland with members of our kindred society, Clan MacFarlane Worldwide.

A full copy of the newsletter is available in our Members Area, but you can read Anita’s report below:

Anita’s Travels (Part One) – From Dublin to Derry

Part Two will be included in the December issue of the newsletter.


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Aug 12 14

Scottish Exhibition and Festival – Immigration Museum – Victoria – November 2014

by Glenda Dickson

On Sunday 16 November 2014, the Immigration Museum will be hosting a special one-day community festival to mark the opening of a new community exhibition exploring Scottish migration to Victoria. It will be a colourful celebration of Scottish culture and traditions still practiced across the state. The festival will feature community performers, speakers, stalls, food, and other activities. 

11am – 4pm

Entry $12 for adults, free for children and all concession holders (inc. seniors, students, carers etc.)

For further information please visit the Museum Victoria website:

or telephone 131102 (Victoria only) or  (03) 9927 2700 (Australia Wide)

Immigration Museum, Old Customs House, 400 Flinders Street, Melbourne, Victoria





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Jul 11 14

“I’m awa’ tae Ballarat tae see the show!”

by Glenda Dickson

I'm awa' tae Ballarat tae see the show!We had a great day out in Ballarat yesterday despite the blustery weather conditions. As the rain pelted down outside, my husband and I tucked into a light lunch at the Art Gallery Cafe in Ballarat before visiting the “For Auld Lang Syne” exhibition which is due to close on 27th July.

This is a magnificent collection of artwork and objects illustrating the significant contribution that Scots have made to Australia.  The items on display are too numerous to list but some that caught my eye were:

  • A watercolour painted in 1878 depicting the Hall at Werribee Park, owned by the Chirnside brothers, sons of a Berwickshire farmer.
  • An oil painting on canvas of the Marco Polo, a well known emigrant ship of the 1850s.
  • A portrait of the Rev. John Dunmore Lang, Presbyterian clergyman and tireless promoter of emigration. (Here it was noted that on his death he was so highly respected that the funeral procession was a mile long!)
  • Some of the earliest policitical prisoners sent to New South Wales were the celebrated five radicals known as The Scottish Martyrs. Only two of them were Scottish by birth: Thomas Muir and William Skirving. Whilst they are commemorated by a 94ft obelisk at the Old Calton Cemetery in Edinburgh, erected in 1844, the exhibition in Ballarat had another memento from the time of their sentencing in the 1790s, a linen scarf.
  • There were two grandiose portraits of Captain John Piper, and his wife and children. Apparently Captain Piper was a disgraced Collector of Customs (1826) who relished the high life. He is said to have been an early exponent of Scottish nostalgia and the romantic idea of Highland life.
  • Charles Bruce was a Scottish born convict engraver who produced an engraving titled “Hobart Town Chain Gang” c. 1831. This depicted convict prisoners in Hobart.  The description on this exhibit said that Scottish judges were reluctant to impose a harsh sentence for minor crimes and therefore only about 5% of the male convict population in Australia was Scottish.
  • There was also an example of Scrimshaw. This was a bone from a sea mammal (such as a whale) which had been carved with the image of a Highlander and then the carving had been highlighted with pigment.

The only exhibit that I saw that displayed the word MACFARLANE (which naturally caught my eye) was an 1874 photo engraving on paper titled “John Forrest’s Party (his brother Alexander, second in command) sight the overland telegraph line.”  This was painted by J. Macfarlane (1890-1898) and is part of a collection of pictures of Australian explorers held in the Pictures Collection in the National Library of Australia.

Did you know that many Scottish companies founded in the 19th century in Australia are still flourishing today? These include:

- Arnotts Biscuits
- Boag’s Beer
- Bendigo Pottery
- MacRobertson’s Chocolates
- Selkirk Bricks
- Waverley Woollen Mills

The exhibition was complete with tartan feature walls, and mounted stag heads (the latter apparently on loan from a local private collection).

Guided tours of For Auld Lang Syne are also available each day at 11.30am and 1.30pm, exclusively for ticket holders, departing from the ticket desk at the entrance to the exhibition.

There is also a well illustrated hardcover book  “For Auld Lang Syne” available for sale in the bookshop ($75).

You may also be interested in reading other reviews on the internet:


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Jul 3 14

Scotland and the Slave Trade

by Malcolm Lobban

We take a brief look at the part played by many Scots who became wealthy due to their close involvement with slave labour.

It has always been a ‘bone of contention’ in my mind just why ~ in my generation ~ the Scottish education system seemed to teach so little about the real history of my country. During the 1930s the subject of History focused heavily on broader aspects of the then British Empire, as depicted by all the ‘pink’ areas of a world atlas ~ but even here it seems that certain subjects, were, to say the least, never highlighted to any great extent.

Britain’s involvement with the African slave trade seemed forever a subject carefully edited for public consumption. As a child, I honestly believed that Brits were God’s own disciples, going forth to spread enlightenment among the less fortunate of our earthly brethren. The possibility that so many of the same brethren were being cruelly exploited never entered my mind.

In later life, it came as something of a shock to learn that many Scottish plantation owners became rich on the backs of unfortunate black African slaves, particularly in the Caribbean area.

It is estimated that 20,000,000 Africans were bought or captured in Africa and transported to the Americas. The Scottish-Caribbean link is centuries old, but from the beginning of the 18th century it expanded rapidly, until Britain eventually controlled the West-Indies ~ and Scottish slave owners played a prominent part in what was described as Chattel Slavery.

To read the full article (orginally published in MacFarlane’s Lantern No. 112, December 2009) please click on the following link:

Scotland and the Slave Trade

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Jun 23 14

MacFarlanes at Bannockburn?

by Malcolm Lobban

Whilst this year Scotland celebrates the 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, we search for Clan MacFarlane.

A fair number of MacFarlanes from all over the world will visit Scotland this year and take part in the Remembrance activity being re-enacted near the battle site, of 1314. However, a question arises; did Clan MacFarlane take part in the actual battle of Bannockburn all those 700 years ago?

MacFarlanes who know the basics of their Clan’s history will be aware that our lineage stems as a branch of the ancient Celtic Earls of Lennox. Our first clan chief was one Gilchrist, who was the fourth son of Alwyn, 2nd Earl of Lennox, and who in 1225 received the lands and barony of Arrochar in Dunbartonshire from his brother Malduin (3rd Earl).

To read the rest of this article, which was published in MacFarlane’s Lantern No. 130 – June 2014, please click on the following link:

MacFarlanes at Bannockburn

A full copy of the current newsletter (and back issues) are also available in the Members Area.


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Jun 15 14

Misses MacFARLANE – Aberdeen Female Teachers 1824

by Glenda Dickson

“MacFARLANE, Misses. They were listed as teachers in the 1824 Aberdeen Directory at Retties Court, 26 Broad Street.”

The above entry was found in Aberdeen Female Teachers pre-1872: a biographical list by Alison T. McCall,  published by the Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society and winner of their Bruce Henderson Award for 2012.

Can anyone provide any further information on these women?

Education was not made compulsory until the Education (Scotland) Act 1872 but there were a variety of schools in existence before then.  These schools were either run by the local church, a charity, the Town Council or privately.  The smaller ones were run from home and had less than a dozen students whilst the larger ones could have as many as several hundred pupils.  Some schools were for a single sex, others were mixed (generally for younger students) and others were divided into separate departments for boys and girls.  These early female teachers varied in age, marital status and family background, but they all faced the same stigma as “new women” who forged a career at a time when society expected them to focus on finding a husband.  As there were no special colleges to train teachers until 1873, these women showed great determination in travelling away from home for two years to attend College, often as far away as Edinburgh.

The author of the book, Alison T. McCall, urges those researching the women in their family to check the publication list of the Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society  for other relevant books.



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May 23 14

The Jacobite Years – Where were the MacFarlanes?

by Malcolm Lobban

The 18th century was of particular importance to Scotland as a whole, during the first decade of which the Scots lost the power to govern themselves. Indeed, many still argue that the Act of Union in 1707 was inflicted on the majority of Scots by an influential and very wealthy minority that constituted the then ruling establishments on both sides of the Border.

Certainly there is ample evidence to suggest that many acts of chicanery, bribery and various shades of corruption were rife among politicians during the run up to the event…..

Read the full article (originally published in MacFarlane’s Lantern No. 127, September 2013) by clicking on the link below.

The Jacobite Years


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May 23 14

THE STRANGER-GAELS : A look at Norse influence in the northern Highlands and Islands of Scotland

by Malcolm Lobban

It is important to to note that, from about the mid-9th century until 1266, much of the northern mainland and outer isles of Celtic Scotland had fallen to Norse control. Vikings from Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) had appeared first as raiders and pirates in search of plunder, but later came as settlers.

Norsemen largely dominated what are now Caithness, Sutherland and a great portion of what would become Ross (later Ross-shire). Along with the Orkney and Shetland Isles, these lands formed part of the earldom of Orkney, initially ruled by powerful Norwegian jarls (earls) on behalf of the kings of Norway.

From the time of Kenneth MacAlpin (844-858) successive Scottish kings struggled continuously to annex these northern lands to Scotland. For a while, at least until annexation became a reality, there existed a kind of diplomatic ‘understanding’ between the kings of Scots and the Orkney jarls. Indeed a daughter of King Malcolm II (1005-1034) married Sigurd II., Jarl of Orkney.

Read the full article by Calum Curamach (originally published in MacFarlane’s Lantern No. 128, December 2013) by clicking on the link below.

The Stranger-Gaels

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