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Arrochybeg to Australia (The Story of MacFarlane Pioneers) – Part One by ‘Calum Curamach’

by Malcolm Lobban on June 2nd, 2011

As we delve further into our Clan’s history, we come across more and more references to those clan folk who were settled along the eastern shores of Loch Lomond.Thus our lead story in the June 2011 issue of the Australian “MacFarlane’s Lantern”,  Issue No.118, concerns two MacFarlane brothers from the small farm of Arrochybeg, Buchanan parish, Stirlingshire, who were among the many Scots that migrated to Australia during the mid-19th century and contributed greatly to the development of this huge country.

James (b1796) and Duncan (b1798) were the sons of Walter and Marjory MacFarlane (nee Colquhoun) who farmed Arrochybeg, beside Loch Lomond.Walter (1755-1836) was a seventh generation direct descendant of Andrew Dubh MacFarlane, 2nd Laird of Gartartan, Gartmore, Stirlingshire, which, in turn, linked the family to the main line of MacFarlane Barons of Arrochar and to the ancient Earls of Lennox – by all accounts a pedigree to be proud of.

Part one of this article deals with James, who was a pioneering cattleman in Victoria.His brother Duncan, who made his own mark in South Australia,  will feature in the next (September) issue.

The article has been extracted in full from the newsletter and made available below as a pdf document for the benefit of those who are not members and therefore unable to access the newsletter via the Members Area.

Arrochybeg to Australia – Part One

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  • Karen Cassidy

    Hi anyone out there Im looking for information on my mums side of the family MacFarlane/McFarlane so far they are from around Stirling Im looking for a Walter he was a teacher and he had a son born in Australia named Charles Walter who also became a teacher and a headmaster in Tasmania Australia

  • Kate Nancarrow

    PS Hi Heather, just to confuse things, it seems the children of John and Violet Macfarlane listed their mother’s maiden name as Thomson and if you search on McGlashan/Thomson ancestry around Stirlingshire and Argyll, the two names seem to be used interchangeably. Someone may be able to shed light on this.

  • Malcolm Lobban

    This is a new topic for general distribution. Do we have any MacFarlane readers out there in Clanland who have familiy connections with the Isle of Lewis and Canada. We are looking for information concerning one Alexander McFarlane, who surfaced in Nova Scotia around 1800, Canada and who married a Jessie McKay, whose forebears were from around Aberdeen. This marraige resulted in some 500 descendants — possibly some in Australia.Yet Alexander’s origins — belived to be Isle of Lewis — are still a mystery. Can anybody assist with this?

  • Malcolm Lobban

    Hello Belinda
    Nice to hear from you. You ask about the surname Weaver and its possible connection with Clan MacFarlane.Weaver is an anglicized version of the Scots ‘Wabster’ or ‘Webster’ all of which relate to the occupation of weaver of cloth.Until the late nineteenth century almost every district in Scotland had many weaver/websters who worked from their homes (a cottage industry), but with the coming of the Industrial Revolution most of the weaving was concentrated in large mills centered in large towns and cities, which even-tually caused the gradual demise of the small cottage looms.
    Thus, it is safe to say that in the early period of the cottage industry, there would almost certainly be people named Weaver/Webster in all the clan lands of the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland (and England).
    In the Gaelic-speaking Highlands the word appears as ‘figheadair’ (weaver)
    which, in turn, appears as ‘Mac-an-fhigheadair’ (son of the weaver), which again is corrupted in translation to English as ‘MacNider’ (or variations thereof).
    So, really, Belinda, since the heartlands of Clan MacFarlane are historically in the old earldom of Lennox (county of Dunbarton, and parts of the counties of Stirling, Perth and Renfrew) only those of the name Weaver/Webster and MacNider would likely be attached to MacFarlane. If, by chance you trace your Weavers to th areas here mentioned then you are a step nearer.
    In any event, since Weaver IS listed as a MacFarlane sept name, then we would be pleased to accept you as a member of Clan MacFarlane Society Australia, Inc. Meanwhile, I hope the foregoing is of help to you, and if you think we can assist further – well you know where we are.
    Good luck with your research,

  • Belinda

    Hi Malcom,
    I am investigating my families history and talking with a few people in Scotland I learned that the last name Weaver is linked to the Mac Farlane clan.Do you have any documents indicating the connections? I am only at the beginning of my journey and can trace back a few generations, so any guidance would be great.

  • Malcolm Lobban

    Hi Kate,

    If we come across yer auld darlin’ Annie McTavish during our research, we shall keep you in mind!


  • Kate Nancarrow

    I’ve been searching for my hard-to-trace great grandmother Annie McTavish for 30 years and I’ll be delighted if she’s a descendant of the MacFarlanes – even if via the wrong side of the blanket.I’m amazed MacFarlanes were among the earliest pastoral pioneers in three states.

    I’ll look forward to reading about Duncan in September.

  • Malcolm Lobban

    Thanks, Kate:
    It was good of you to take the time to respond.New information is always most welcome.We shall add your comments to our archives.

    Again, many, many thanks,


  • Kate Nancarrow

    Hi Malcolm, Just found your interesting article on the MacFarlanes of Gippsland and the reference to Malcolm’s sister Margery.Margery married Peter MacFarlane (son of Robert MacF but not sure of Ptr&Margery’s connection) on 22.5.1841 at Buchanan, Stirlingshire and they arrived at Pt Phillip Bay on 2/10/1841 on the Thomas Arbuthnot from Greenock.They had a son Robert in 1843 at Portland.
    They settled up near the Murray-Darling border near Wentworth, taking on the Mallee Cliffs Station that their son Robert also later ran.
    Peter died at Wentworth in 1869 and is buried there along with Margery’s illegitimate son, Peter McTavish (b 10.4.1839 Buchanan, Stirlingshire).Peter was raised in Scotland by Margery’s parents John MacF and Violet Thomson but came to Australia with another relative Thomas McPherson in 1857 and lived with his mother Margery at Mallee Cliffs until he was drowned on 24/1/1865 near Wentworth.
    Peter MacFarlane, Peter McTavish and Archibald McIntosh (of Broadlands, Gippsland d 1876, aged 30) are all buried in a fenced grave at Wentworth.
    My interest/connection is with Peter McTavish.I’m descended from an Annie McTavish, b 1860 at Mallee Cliffs, Murray Cliffs, Murray River NSW – she may be the illegitimate daughter of Peter McTavish and a Janet Simpson, a servant at Polia station on the Darling River.