Chapter 1: The Origin of the MacGilchrists of Western Scotland

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It is historically evident that two separate MacGilchrist families emerged in western Scotland in the thirteenth century --- the MacGilchrists of Glassary and the MacGilchrists of Lennox. A third family appeared in eastern Scotland as a sept of Clan Ogilvie. Given the once widespread use of the name "Gilchrist" as a Christian, or given name, as well as the use of patronymics (placing "Mac" before a given name), and it is surprising that there were not more such families to appear.

In early Scotland the name was pronounced: "Mahk - ILL - creest", according to THE SCOTTISH MACS THEIR DERIVATION AND ORIGIN, written by James B. Johnston and published by Paisley, Gardner of Glasgow in 1922 (Page 8). By the middle of the eighteenth century most who bore the name had dropped the "Mac", or "Mc" from their name.


The first recorded use of the name as a family name in western Scotland appears to be with regard to the descendants of a twelfth century patriarch named Gilchrist (Gillacrist) who came to possess a large extent of land between Loch Awe and Loch Fyne. According to the fifteenth century genealogical manuscript known as "MS-l467" on file in the National Library of Scotland, Gilchrist married a daughter of Kennedy, Lord of Carrick from whom he also acquired land.

Click here for a full size view of this family tree

Click here for a full size view of this family tree

Gilchrist was a great grandson of the Irish prince Anrothan of the O’Neill line of kings of northern Ireland. It was through Anrothan’s marriage in the eleventh century to the Scottish heiress of the lands of Cowal and Knapdale that the later clans of MacLachlan, Lamont, McEwen, MacSwene, and MacNeill would claim descent. Professor W.D.H. Sellar of the University of Edinburgh who has researched the early history of these families states in his essay: "Family Origins In Cowal And Knapdale" (Scottish Studies, Vol. 15, Edinburgh, l971) that "the lands held and marriage alliances contracted show clearly that they belonged to the first rank of Gaelic aristocracy". These clans as well as the descendants of Gilchrist all bore the "Dalriadic Lyon" (the rampant lion) in their coat of arms --- Dalriada being the name of the fifth century kingdom established by the Scots who had migrated from northern Ireland across to western Scotland.

The sons of Gilchrist were: Gilpatrick, Gillascop (Archibald), and Eoghan (Ewen). It was from Gilpatrick, the oldest son, that the Clan MacLachlan would claim descent, deriving its name from Lachlan Mor the son of Gilpatrick. It is probable that among the lands which he inherited from his father were those which Gilchrist had received from his father-in-law the Lord of Carrick. The lands belonging to the remaining two sons were almost entirely within the region of Glassary between Loch Awe and Loch Fyne.

On August 1, 1240, in what appears to be the earliest royal grant of lands ever made in the region of Argyll, which encompasses much of western Scotland, Gillascop and Eoghan became the recipients of a charter provided by Scotland’s King Alexander II. The grant was made in apparent gratitude for the support rendered by the two brothers for the king’s successful military campaign against the Norse who controlled the western islands. The grant was however a formality in that Gillascop and Eoghan were already in possession of the land --- land approximating 100,000 acres which they had inherited from their father. Among the lands recorded as belonging to Gillascop were the five pennylands of Fynchairn (or, Fincharn), the two Rudols which bordered Fincharn, and Glenfynport and Letherlochake which were on the Cowal side of Loch Fyne. Belonging to Eoghan were the lands of Crageneure (Cragenywyr), the pennyland of Penig Corthen, and Naheass which was probably Achachois.

It was on a small rocky bluff on the southwest shore of Loch Awe that the family established its stronghold – Fincharn Castle. Described as an early "hallhouse" the castle was a commanding structure built in a rectangular shape, having a main hall on the upper floor and a probable parapet around the roof. Only three high-standing walls remain today of the ruins located less than a mile from the small community of Ford.

Click here for more information, and a full size image of Fincharn Castle

Photo courtesy of Pat Kight

Click here for more information, and a full size image of Fincharn Castle

By 1292, the lands held by Gillascop had passed into the hands of Mr. Radulph of Dundee, son of Sir Gilbert, Lord of Dundee. It has been generally accepted that Master Radulph married Gillascop’s daughter and heiress with the new family acquiring the name, "de Glassareth", or "of Glassary". In the same year that the lands came under the new ownership they were incorporated into the Sheriffdom of Argyll by King Baliol, and Radulph became one of the twelve great barons of Argyll. The remaining MacGilchrist land was later forfeited by the heirs of Eoghan’s son Iain (John), who along with his cousin, Gillascop MacLachlan, had also been listed as being among the twelve great barons of Argyll.

In the early fourteenth century John of Glassary, the son and successor of Master Radulph, granted an estimated one-third of the former MacGilchrist estate to his brother-in-law, Dugald, the second son of Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow. The remaining lands passed into the possession of the Scrymgeour family with the marriage in l370 of Alexander Scrymgeour of Dudhope, Constable of Dundee and King’s Bannerman, to Agnes of Glassary, the daughter and heiress of Gilbert the son of John of Glassary. What may have remained of the MacGilchrists of Glassary now became a sept of their cousins, the Clan MacLachlan,  as often occurred among broken clans with some of the families taking the name of the new clan.

ARMS: Quarterly, First, or, a Lion Rampant, gules Second, argent a Dexter Hand couped in fess, holding a Croslet Pattee, in pale gules. Third, or, a Galley, oars in saltire, sable, in a Sea, proper. Fourth, argent in base, in Sea vert a Salmon naiant proper.

Crest of Arms for Clan MacLachlan


There was yet another family of MacGilchrists to appear in western Scotland with their origin being derived from the ancient Earls of Lennox whose lands once occupied the region of Dunbartonshire bounded by Loch Lomond, Loch Long, and Loch Fyne. With the discovery of new information has come increasing probability that most of those who bore the MacGilchrist, and later Gilchrist, name in western Scotland were of this family line.

The first recorded Earl of Lennox was Alwyn MacArkyll who was elevated to the position of earl by King Malcolm IV. The earldom was established on lands granted by King Malcolm III to Alwyn’s grandfather, Arkyll, son of Aykfrith, a Saxon lord who had possessed a large estate in Northumberland. Having played a major role in an unsuccessful revolt against William the Conqueror, Arkyll fled in l068 to the safety of Scotland. Arkyll, the son of Arkyll, inherited his father’s lands in Dunbartonshire and passed them to his son Alwyn. Alwyn, First Earl of Lennox, died during the reign of Malcolm IV and was succeeded by his son Alwyn who became the Second Earl of Lennox. By the end of the thirteenth century the Earls of Lennox had become recognized as being among the most powerful nobles in the kingdom of Scotland.

Click here to view a full size chart of "The Relationship between the Ancient Earls of Lennox and the early MacGilchrists, Lords of Arrochar"

Click here to view a full size chart of "The Relationship between the Ancient Earls of Lennox and the early MacGilchrists, Lords of Arrochar"

Alwyn, son of Alwyn, married Eva, daughter of Gilchrist, Second Earl of Menteith who held the position of Heritable Justiciar of Kintyre; to this family was born a number of sons, the oldest of whom, Malduin, became the Third Earl of Lennox upon his father’s death in l224. To his younger brother, Gilchrist (believed to be Alwyn’s fourth son), Malduin granted in l225 the lands of Arrochar on the northwest side of Loch Lomond, as well as the northern Loch Lomond islands of Elanvow, Elanvanow, Elanrouglas, and Elaig. Mr. John Gray, a respected historian living in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, has related discovering an early map on which the upper two-thirds of the Parish of Arrochar was identified as "MacGilchrist’s Land" (recorded as Makgillchreist). Mr. Gray states that to the holdings acquired from Malduin, Gilchrist added the lands of Glenfalloch and Glendochart with his marriage to a Lothian heiress. It believed that he may have also come to possess the lands of Loch Goil and Loch Tay. Mr. Alastair Campbell of Airds, the Chief Executive for the Duke of Argyll, as well as Unicorn Pursuivant of the Court of the Lord Lyon, states that "MacGilchrist’s Land" appears on a number of ancient charters dealing with the lands located at the upper end of Loch Long.

ARMS: Argent, a saltire engrailed, between four roses, gules.

Four red roses separated by diagonal red stripes on a white shield

Lennox Coat of Arms

There were three successive MacGilchrist generations that followed Gilchrist as Lords (or, Lairds) of Arrochar. In his authoritative book: THE CLANS, SEPTS, AND REGIMENTS OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS, Mr. Frank Adam stated (Page: 243) that the family first made Inveruglas the seat of its authority, then Tarbert (on Loch Lomond), and lastly Arrochar. From this family would descend the Clan MacFarlane.

Gilchrist’s elder son, was Duncan MacGilchrist who became the Second Lord of Arrochar; he married Matilda the daughter of Malcolm, Fourth Earl of Lennox --- an avid supporter of the patriot hero William Wallace. Duncan participated in the great Viking defeat in the Battle of Largs in l263, and it is he who it is believed hid his family from the invading Norse at a point midway between Arrochar at the head of Loch Long and Tarbet on Loch Lomond. In l296, the year that he died at an advanced age, he signed the Ragman Roll, a pledge of submission to the English King Edward I. Concerning this Dr. George F. Black in his book: THE SURNAMES OF SCOTLAND (Page 497) stated: "Duncan MacGilchrist of Leuenaghes (i.e. Lennox) rendered homage in l296 at Berwick-on-Tweed (Bain, II, p. 204). The seal attached to his homage bears an eight-rayed figure and S’ Dvncan McGhilc." Mr. John Gray states that it is this Duncan MacGilchrist that is buried in the Kilkivan Cemetery in Kintyre just west of the city of Campbeltown.

Click here for a full size image

Click on the image for a full screen view of Duncan Gilchrist's gravemarker

The Third Lord of Arrochar was Malduin MacGilchrist, the son of Duncan. (Possibility exists that his name may have been Malcolm.) Malduin, it is known, was an ardent supporter of Robert the Bruce, even providing the future king with protection when he fled through the Lennox.

Becoming the Fourth Lord of Arrochar was Malduin’s son, Parlan (Gaelic for Bartholomew). It would be from Parlan MacGilchrist, an outstanding warrior who gained fame at the age of fifteen by leading an assault on the Vikings in the Battle of Largs that the family would acquire the surname of MacFarlane. Of great interest, however, is the statement made by Mr. Donald Whyte in his book, SCOTTISH SURNAMES & FAMILIES (Birlinn Ltd., Edinburgh, l996, pg. 172) that not all members of the clan changed their name from MacGilchrist to MacFarlane. Nevertheless, according to Mr. William Buchanan of Auchmar in his book, AN INQUIRY INTO THE GENEALOGY AND PRESENT STATE OF ANCIENT SCOTTISH SURNAMES (pub. 1820) the MacGilchrists would be regarded as a cadet of the Clan MacFarlane.

With the tragic execution-style slaying in 1425 of Duncan, Eighth Earl of Lennox, by King James I the original line of earls ended; the Clan MacFarlane now became the senior male inheritor of the earldom. But in an insulting rejection the MacFarlane claim was ignored and the title was conferred on Sir John Stewart of Darnley who had married Elizabeth, second of the three daughters of the eighth earl. It was Henry, younger son of the fourth of the new Stewart Earls of Lennox who became the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and subsequently father of King James VI. Thus, the Earldom of Lennox ultimately passed to James VI.

The strong resistance to the new Stewart earls by the MacFarlanes resulted in the loss of their lands and the dispersal of many of their clansmen. Later, however, with the marriage of Andrew MacFarlane, leader of a cadet branch of the clan, to the daughter of John Stewart, the Lands of Arrochar again became MacFarlane and Andrew became recognized as the tenth chief. It is probable that it was this Andrew MacFarlane who Andrew McKerral notes in his book, KINTYRE IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY (Page: 12), who received a tack (lease) of land at Askomel near Campbeltown, Kintyre in l506. Thereafter, the clan, with their chiefs referred to as "Captains", gave complete unswerving loyalty and support to the Stewarts. Sir John, the eleventh chief, was killed in l5l3 while fighting with the Lennox brigade in the Battle of Flodden. His grandson, Duncan, the thirteenth chief, was killed fighting the English in the Battle of Pinkie in l547. It was this Duncan who was among the first of the highland chiefs to accept the new Presbyterian faith. The clan supported, along with the Stewart Earls of Lennox, the enemies of Mary, Queen of Scots following the murder of her husband Henry, Lord Darnley, son of the Earl of Lennox. In the Battle of Langside fought in l568 against the forces loyal to the queen, the MacFarlane contribution was so outstanding that the clan received for its motto: "THIS I’LL DEFEND". It was their loyalty to the Stewarts that caused the MacFarlanes to align themselves with the Marquess of Montrose in his seventeenth century fight in support of King Charles I --- joined also by the Clan MacDonald of the western isles.

The end of the sixteenth century saw the MacFarlanes become a broken clan, with a reputation tarnished by robbery, plunder, and even murder. In l624, many were tried and either executed or resettled in other areas of Scotland. The clan returned to respectability but terminated in l886 with the death of William, the twenty-fifth chief, the last of the male line.

Of extreme interest and consequence concerning the MacGilchrists of western Scotland is the relationship of the "mysterious" Donald MacGilchrist, Lord of Tarbert. Though many claim descent from this man, what little is known regarding him comes primarily from the ancient Register of the Monastery of Paisley (REGISTRUM MONASTERII DE PASSLET). The entry in the document, accepted as having been made in the late thirteenth century, states that "Dovenaldus Makgilkriste, Dominus De Tarbard" granted the Cluniac monks of Paisley Abbey the right of cutting wood on his estate for the building and repair of their monastery --- a deed, he stated, that was made "for the health of the souls of my ancestors and for the welfare of my own soul". It is believed that his donation was made about the beginning of the reign of King Robert the Bruce.

Click here for a full size descendant chart of Dovenaldus MakGilkriste

Click here for a full size descendant chart of Dovenaldus MakGilkriste

Was Donald MacGilchrist a younger fourth son of Gilchrist of Glassary, or was he descended from the ancient Earls of Lennox? Until recently this has been an unresolved issue with supportive defenders on each side. Mr. Alastair Campbell confers in relation to the matter that the landholding pattern of Glassary and Cowal, based on King Alexander II’s charter in l240 and the lands of Clan MacLachlan would indicate that the lands inherited from Gilchrist were divided into three equal parts: Gilpatrick’s (the progenitor of Clan MacLachlan), Gillascop’s (or, Gillespie), and Ewen’s. Mr. Campbell points out that Gillascop came ultimately to possess two-thirds of the lands as a result of Ewen’s family being forced to forfeit their holdings --- possibly for not having given their support to Robert the Bruce’s bid for king. Gillascop’s family ended with an heiress marrying Master Ralf of Dundee. When John De Glassareth, the son and successor of Master Ralf, gave his brother-in-law, Dugald Campbell, the second son of Colin Campbell of Lochow, one-third of his Glassary estate, the land involved was quite probably the lands lost by Ewen’s family. Eventually the remaining one-third of Gillascop’s lands passed by means of another heiress into the hands of the Scrymgeour family. It thus becomes evident that there was not a fourth division of land as would be the case had Donald MacGilchrist, indeed, been a fourth son of Gilchrist of Glassary.

Which "Tarbert" had also been a major point in resolving the issue --- the Tarbert in upper Kintyre, site of Tarbert Castle, or the Tarbert on Loch Lomond, a now known seat of authority for the MacGilchrists descended from the ancient Earls of Lennox. It is known that a substantial forest, from which the monks of Paisley would have had more than an ample supply of lumber, once covered a large tract of land northwest of Loch Lomond; in later years it was known as "MacFarlane’s Forest". These points combined with the discovery of the map labeling the land of upper Arrochar Parish as "Makgillchreist’s Land" and the land identified on old land charters as "The Pleuchland of MacGilchrist" present irrefutable argument in support of Donald MacGilchrist’s Lennox ties. It thus appears probable that he was a younger son of Duncan MacGilchrist, Second Lord of Arrochar.

Claiming descent from Donald, Lord of Tarbert, were the influential MacGilchrist family of Rothesay, Isle of Bute who are first found recorded in the late sixteenth century; many of this family bore the name of "Donald". The family was well educated and held such positions as burgess, sheriff depute, and notary public (See chart on those claiming descent from Donald MacGilchrist, Lord of Tarbert). They also maintained the support and endorsement of the dominant Stuart family of Bute who had close family ties to the Stewart Earls of Lennox. The Stuarts of Bute had through marriage established ties with the MacDonalds of Sanda in Kintyre as well as the Campbells of Argyll which thus permitted the acceptance of the MacGilchrists into the regions influenced by those families. It is known that some of the MacGilchrists from the Isle of Bute moved to Glassary where they served as educators and Presbyterian ministers. It is also known that members of this family also settled in and around the city of Glasgow where numerous variations in the spelling of the name began to appear --- Gilchrisson, Christison, Christopherson, Gilcrease, Kilcreas, and others.

In the year l672, the Public Register of All Arms and Bearing in the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh recorded a listing for Mr. Donald MacGilchrist, a prominent Glasgow merchant descended from the Isle of Bute MacGilchrists (See chart). In l670 he purchased the Estate of Northbarr from Mr. Thomas Stewart of Barscube. The following excerpt taken from Mr. George Crawfurd’s GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE SHIRE OF RENFREW, first published in l7l0, (Page: l06) is worthy of note:

"Upon the west side of the river of Grief, in a plain field, upon the bank of the river of Clyde, stand some considerable remains of the old palace of Inchenan, one of the seats of the illustrious family of Lenox, which hath been builded by Matthew, Earl of Lenox, and Elizabeth Hamilton his Countess, daughter of James, Earl of Arran, in the year 1506.

And west from this stands the house of Barr, the seat of the Stewarts of Barscube, a branch of the Stewarts of Darnly. As to the precise time of Barscube’s descent, I cannot determine; but this much I certainly know, that they were a younger son of that noble family: For I have seen a Charter granted by Matthew Earl of Lenox, "dilecto consanguineo suo Thomae Stewart, de Terris de North Bar, Craigtoun, Barscube, and Rashielee:Apud Crocstoun 5 Julii, Anno 1497." This family continued in good reputation, was esteemed among the first quality in this Shire, and well allied in the country, and failed in the person of Thomas Stewart of Barscube, who died without issue, in the last Irish wars. He alienated most of his estate, about 1670, to Donald MacGilchrist, a wealthy merchant of the city of Glasgow. The first of this Sirname I have found is "Donaldus MacGilchrist, Dominus de Tarbart", who was a benefactor to the Monastery of Pasly, by giving the Monks and their successors the privilege of cutting wood, for supporting of the fabrick of the Monastery, in any part of his woods that lay most convenient for them; which deed he expresses to be made "for the health of these souls of his ancestors, and for the welfare of his own soul": which I take to be about the beginning of the reign of King Robert Bruce. And from this last Donald MacGilchrist of Tarbart probably descended Donald MacGilchrist of North Bar, who built the house of North Bar in an. 1676, which is in form of a court, adorned with pleasant orchards and gardens. He departed this life an. 1684, leaving issue James, his son and heir; who hath married Ann, daughter of Laurence Crawfurd of Jordan-hill, by whom he hath issue.

His Armorial bearing is, Gules; a Lion Rampant, Argent; within a Border ingraled, of the 2d; and for Crest, a Lion’s Paw; with this Motto: "Cogit in hostem."

Rampant Lion


Click on the image for a full size view


Click on the image for a full size view

In the later updated issue of the book published in l8l8, statement is made concerning the sale of the greater portion of the estate in l74l to Hugh, Eleventh Lord Sempill who renamed the mansion Sempill House; in l798, the property became the possession of Mr. Buchanan, and in l8l2, the possession of Lord Blantyre The MacGilchrists did, however, retain "a very pleasant wing of it, near to the water of Cart, where, on a rising ground, he erected a very cheerful mansion on a lesser scale, which is remarkable for commanding a very extensive prospect, and is still in the possession of his family. He called it also Northbarr, but is more generally known, from its elevated site, by the name of House of Hill." (Pages: 382-3)

The tie linking the Isle of Bute MacGilchrists to those who emerged in the Kintyre Peninsula in the early seventeenth century is also strong. Through marriage the Stuarts of Bute became associated with the MacDonalds of Sanda who held the lease to nearly all of the farms in south Kintyre. It was Mr. Ian MacDonald of Clachan, Scotland who discovered the following charter while researching the Duke of Argyll’s estate records some of which are on file in the Kintyre Antiquarian Society’s Library in Campbeltown, Scotland (See Appendix for more on Ian MacDonald):

On 23rd and 24th of November 1620: Sasine of the 40 merkland of BALE-GREGGAN, 20 merkland of PENNSERACHE and the 20 merkland of ACHOWROWE in Kintyre given by JOHN STEWART in BALEGREGGAN as Bailie to ALEXANDER OIG MACDONALD in SMERBIE on a sale charter to him by ARCHIBALD OIG MACDONALD of MACHRIERIOCH which was signed at ROTHESAY, ISLE OF BUTE on 8th July l620 before JOHN MONTGOMERY of SUMAKRIES, and THOMAS STEWART and JOHN GLAIS - both notaries in Rothesay; DUNCAN MACGILCHRIST, servitor to the grantee and DONALD GILCHRIST, notary public in ROTHESAY.

From the details of the l620 Kintyre land charter it can be determined that acting as servitor to the MacDonalds on the central Kintyre farm of Smerbie was Duncan MacGilchrist who quite probably was the father of Archibald "McGillichrist" listed as farmer in Cattadilmoir Farm in the l653 estate records of the Marquis of Argyll; Cattadilmoir, another MacDonald-leased farm was within a mile of Achowrowe Farm. Mr. Ian MacDonald wrote that a servitor would often be granted a farm in payment for his good service. Also of interest is the discovery in the l694 Kintyre Hearth Tax Report of a Donald McIllechreist on the nearby farm of Glanadilluachtrach, evidencing the use of a name frequently used by the Isle of Bute family. It has been determined that the Gilchrist families that came to occupy many of the farms of central and upper Kintyre from the seventeenth into the eighteenth centuries were all related to the family that emerged in south Kintyre.

The MacGilchrist (or, Gilchrist) family also appeared on the Island of Islay in the early seventeenth century. The 1686 Rental of Islay revealed the existence of a farmer named: "Muldonie McGillichreist" living on the northeastern Islay farm of Ardnahow. It is worthy of note that the name: "Muldonie" was on occasion used in conjunction with the Lennox name of "Malduin". Found also living in the same year of 1686 on the Kildalton Parish farm of Lagrevog and Inverloskaine were John and Patrick McGillichreist; in 1702 Donald McIllchrist is recorded as living in Kildalton Parish. By l741 the rent roll for Islay’s Kildalton Parish indicated that several bearing the MacGilchrist, or Gilchrist name were living on Glenegidill (or, Glenegedale); and it is apparent that the descendants of these families remained on the farm through the middle of the nineteenth century.

If then it is true that the greater part of the MacGilchrists of western Scotland descended from the ancient Earls of Lennox, and they were abruptly terminated by the execution of Duncan, Eighth Earl of Lennox in 1425, to what clan can they claim to be affiliated? It was from Parlan, great grandson of Gilchrist, who was in turn the younger son of Alwyn, Second Earl of Lennox, that the Clan MacFarlane took its name. The MacGilchrists who remained in the clan’s territory either adopted the new name or, as Mr. John Gray states, signed their names "MacGilchrist, alias MacFarlane". But, for those MacGilchrists who moved --- probably in the 1500’s --- into regions outside of the clan’s traditional jurisdiction, the old bonds were broken, thereby permitting the establishment of new relationships with such dominant clans as the Stuarts of Bute, the MacDonalds of Islay and Kintyre, and the Campbells of Argyll. That the family made no apparent effort to use names such as Walter, Andrew, etc., associated with the MacFarlanes, combined with the absence of contact gives support to the break in ties that must have occurred. It is interesting to note that Mr. Donald MacGilchrist of Northbarr Estate adopted as his family coat-of-arms the rampant lion and not the Lennox/MacFarlane arms. Is it possible that the MacGilchrists who descended from the ancient Earls of Lennox were increasingly developing into a separate clan? Rather it would appear that support of the interests of the dominant families of the regions into which they moved now became preeminent.

Nevertheless, in a letter written by Mr. Donny Gilchrist, a retired Campbeltown fish merchant, he writes:

"I remember my father telling me, when I was a young boy, that we were a part of the MacFarlane Clan." This in turn supports a statement in a letter written by Mr. Donald Whyte, author of SCOTTISH SURNAMES AND FAMILIES: "With regard to a (Gilchrist) tartan, I do not think there would be anything wrong in choosing MacFarlane, but on the whole I feel that the Lennox District tartan would be most apt."

MacFarlane Coat of Arms

The following excerpt is taken from: AN INQUIRY INTO THE GENEALOGY AND PRESENT STATE OF ANCIENT SCOTTISH SURNAMES: WITH THE ORIGIN AND DESCENT OF THE HIGHLAND CLANS, AND FAMILY OF BUCHANAN, written by William Buchanan and published in 1820 by John Wylie & Company of Glasgow. The excerpt begins with a reference to Alwyn (Aluin), Second Earl of Lennox:

This earl Aluin left issue, (besides others whose posterity is long since extinct,) two sons; Malduin his successor in the earldom, and Gilchrist, ancestor to the laird of MacFarlane. Malduin was succeeded by his son Malcolm, and he again by his son of the same name, who was father to Donald, the last earl of Lennox of that family, whose only daughter, Margaret, was married to Walter Stewart of Faslane, son to Allan of Faslane, second son to Stewart, lord Darnly. The old family of Lennox being thus extinct for want of male issue, and having produced no cadets since Gilchrist came off the same, it is pretty evident that the laird of MacFarlane is latest cadet, and consequently heir-male of that ancient family. Having thus cleared my way, I proceed to the account of the surname of MacFarlane.

Gilchrist, ancestor to the laird of MacFarlane, obtained, by the grant of his brother Malduin, earl of Lennox, terras de superiori Arrochar de Luss, very particularly bounded in the original charter, which is afterwards confirmed in the records of the privy seal. Which lands of Arrochar, so bounded, have continued ever since with his posterity, in a direct male line, to this day. This Gilchrist is witness in a great many charters, granted by his brother Malduin, the earl of Lennox, to his vassals, particularly to one granted, by the said earl of Lennox, to Anselan, laird of Buchanan, of the isle of Clareinch in Lochlomond, dated in the year 1225. As also to another, granted, by the said earl of Lennox, to William, son of Arthur Galbreath, of the two Carrucates of Badernock, dated at Fintry, anno 1238. In both which charters he is designed "Gilchrist Frater Comitis."

He left issue, a son, Duncan, designed in old charters "Duncan Filius Gilchrist," or "MacGilchrist," who had a charter from Malcolm, earl of Lennox, whereby the said earl ratifies and confirms Donationem illam quam Malduinus, Avus meus Comes de Lennox, fecit Gilchrist Fratri suo, de terris de superiori Arrochar de Luss. This Duncan is witness in a charter, by Malcolm, earl of Lennox, to Michael MacKessan, of the lands of Garchel and Ballet. He married his own cousin, Matilda, daughter to the earl of Lennox, by whom he had Maldonich, or Malduin, his successor, concerning whom there is little upon record.

Malduin’s son and successor was Partholan, or Parlan, from whose proper name the family obtained the patronimical surname of MacPharlane, or Parlansons, being, as is asserted, for three descents before the assumption of this, surnamed MacGilchrists, from Gilchrist already mentioned. Some of these last have retained that surname as yet, who nevertheless own themselves to be cadets of the family of MacFarlane.

Parlan was succeeded by his son Malcolm MacPharlane, who got a charter from Donald, earl of Lennox, upon the resignation of his father Parlan, son to Malduin, wherein he is confirmed, by the said earl, in the lands of Arrochar, formerly called the Carrucate of MacGilchrist, together with four isles in Lochlomond, called Island-vow, Island-vanow, Island-row-glass, and Clang , for four merks of feu-duty, and service to the king’s host. Although this charter, as many other ancient ones, wants a date, yet it is clearly evident, that it was prior to another, granted by the same earl, to the said Malcolm, laird of MacFarlane, whereby the earl discharges him and his heirs of the four merks of feu-duty, payable by the former charter, both for by-gones, and for the time to come. This is dated at Bellach, May 4th, 1354.

Click here for a full size image of this map of Kintyre

Click here for a full size image map of the Argyll area of Scotland

Click here for more about the Gilchrist Coat of Arms

Gilchrist Coat of Arms

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