Glen Lyon - Aird, Fortingall, Perthshire


The Children of Farquhar

The Name

Mac Fhearchair - the modern Gaelic spelling of the family name, means son of Farquhar. Farquhar or Fhearchair from the Gaelic 'Fhear' and 'chair' means 'Dear one'.

McKercher, McKerchar, McKeracher, McKerracher, McKerricher, McKericher, McEracher, McFarquhar and Farquharson - are all pronounced the same way in Gaelic. The spelling is simply a reflection of the adoption of localization in the spelling - with Anglicization. The finalization of the name spelling varied depending on time and location, but generally occurred following 1812. Prior to this, all the variants occurred in records, depending on who and what was being recorded. All of these families - with any of the spellings - belong to Clan Farquharson or Clann Fhearchair.

McKercher and McKerchar are generally the finalized highland spellings in official records, while McKerracher/McKerrachar is the finalized lowland spelling in official records - specifically for McKerchers from Perthshire. The descendants of these families who moved to the new world in the early 1800's or prior would finalize their names according to whether they came from the highlands or lowlands in most cases, while others chose differing variants. The use of 'Mac' or the abbreviated 'Mc' is most often interchangeable in Scotland, while it is fixed elsewhere.

Of the name variants, both McFarquhar and Farquharson are generally found outside of Perthshire, except for Farquharson in Atholl. Farquharson is the name and spelling adopted by those from Aberdeenshire, while McFarquhar is the name and spelling of those from Inverness-shire and Nairnshire. These families are not catalogued here, as they are related but separate branches to that of the McKerchers of Perthshire.

Origins from Clan Mackintosh

According to the traditional genealogy claimed by Clan Mackintosh and Clan Shaw, they - and the McKercher families of Perthshire as well as Clan Farquharson as a whole descend from Shaw MacDuff, the younger son of Duncan who was the 5th Earl and Thane of Fife in the 12th century. At that time, the Earls of Fife were the highest ranking nobles in Scotland and held the right to crown the King of Scots. The earldom was held by the MacDuff family by grant of King Malcolm III of Canmore in Parliament in 1057 until succeeded by the Stewarts in 1425. Prior to this act, the MacDuff family were Thanes of Fife, having been appointed in the year 838 by King Kenneth MacAlpin - whom they claim descent or kinship.

The claim is that Shaw MacDuff distinguished himself to King Malcolm IV, by leading an expedition to Moray against Norse invaders in 1163. The King granted him lands in Petty, as well as control of Inverness Castle. It was here that he became known as Mac an Toiseach, meaning the son of the Thane. Thus he also became the progenitor of both Clan Shaw and Clan Mackintosh by becoming the 1st Chief of Clan Mackintosh.

There is no proof to this claim in regard to MacDuff, as Duncan MacDuff was not in fact toiseach of Fife, he was moirmaer, so his son Shaw would have been titled Mac Mhoireir. There is also no evidence that Mackintoshes held land or control near Petty nor Inverness, as they more likely originated from Badenoch where they resided in the 12th century. The above claim by Clan Mackintosh and Clan Shaw is therefore unsubstantiated. Importantly, the word Toiseach can also be interpreted as steward or seneschal - a position where one works under a moirmaer or Earl.

The true genealogical account is that Shaw or Seaghdh Mac an Toiseach was the son of the senschal of Badenoch or possibly one of his descendants obtained the title. A Farquhar son of Shaw - supposed great-great-grandson of the above Shaw, is recorded in 1234 as a witness in an agreement to Walter Comyn, Earl of Monteith serving as 'Senescalli de Badenoch' - the steward of Badenoch. Farquhar would have been known as Fhearchair Toiseach. His children were subsequently known as Mac an Toiseach - Mackintosh. Farquhar is regarded as the 5th of Mackintosh, with the aforementioned Shaw being regarded as 1st. Whether through Shaw or Farquhar, this is the origin of Clan Mackintosh.

Mackintosh-Shaws of Rothiemurchus

Farquhar's son was Angus MacFearchar the 6th of Mackintosh. According to tradition, Angus married Eva - daughter of Gilpatric Dougall Dall, the 6th Chief of Clan Chattan in 1291 and resided later in Rothiemurchus. Through this marriage comes claims of lineage to the kings of Dál Riata. Angus is recorded in 1297 as being one of ninety nobles who submitted to Edward I of England. Following this the Mackintoshes and Clan Chattan backed Robert the Bruce for the crown - with Angus MacFearchar serving under Randolph, the Earl of Moray at Bannockburn in 1314. Their eldest son William carried forth the Clan Mackintosh, while their second son John carried forth the Mackintosh-Shaws of Rothiemurchus. Upon the death of Eva's father Gilpatric, Angus succeeded as Chief of Clan Chattan.

John's grandson Shaw Mhor Mac Ghillechrist Iain of whom Clan Shaw claim descent, established himself in victory over Clan Cameron at Invernahavon and later participated in the Battle of the Clans on 28th of September 1396 near Perth. Here Shaw and 29 of his Clan Chattan men battled 30 Camerons in front of an audience including King Robert III. With eleven men left standing against one remaining opponent they were awarded victory.

Alexander or Alasdair Ciar Mackintosh was the grandson of Shaw Mhor, the 5th Chief of Clan Shaw. He is recorded as obtaining the estate of Rothiemurchus by deed in 1464, as up until this time the family were merely tenents. He carried on the family as Thane of Rothiemurchus and had 5 sons. His eldest carried on the main Shaw line, while his siblings founded cadet branches of the family. His fourth son Farquhar would effectively establish Clann Fhearchair.

The Consequences of King James I

King James I ruled Scotland from 1424 to 1437, and during this period he upended the existing power structure of the highlands leaving lasting effects after his reign. At his ascension, Domhnall MadDonald Lord of the Isles dominated Argyll and Lochaber. The Albany Stewarts dominated the Central Highlands, including Alexander Stewart the Earl of Mar. In a power move to secure crown revenue and lands, he enacted laws to revoke patronage appointments. This restored lands to the King and severely reduced the numbers of Scottish earls and other nobility. He executed the Albany Stewarts in 1425 and then warred and subjugated the Lord of the Isles following.

This created a a power vacuum throught the Highlands. The Earldom of Mar was annexed to the King in 1435. Parts of Breadalbane and then Atholl in 1437. The Earl of Huntly was granted the Lordship of Banenoch in 1451. The Menzie chiefs succeeded Stewarts starting in 1430 and became tenants-in-chief of the crown in Breadalbane and Atholl. The Campbells and MacGregors moved into Breadalbane and Atholl, supplanting Stewarts. The dislocation of nobility created opportunity and generated movement of peoples as they seized advantage.


Clann Fhearchair

The Farquharsons

Farquhar Beg Mackintosh himself left Rothiemurchus about 1450 and moved south-east over the Cairngorm mountains through the pass of Lairig Ghrue to settle in the Braes of Mar of the upper Deeside on the Clunie. He was likely already wed when he moved to the Strathdee, and had only one son name Donald by his wife. He was a wicker-worker by trade, making harnesses and the like. He had the misfortune to drown while harvesting material, caught by the currents of the Dee when he slipped into the river. His widow raised their son in Glen Clunie at Cnoc Mucan. It is this son of Farquhar whose descendants would become known as Clann Fhearchair or by Lowland expression as Clan Farquharson, but it would be his grandson who would actually establish the clan.

Clann Fionnlaigh

Donald MacFearchar was taken in by a McKenzie of Dail Mhor and trained when he was of age. He later entered the service of a Stewart of the Mar family, the Laird of Invercauld. It is claimed that Donald went on to marry the Laird's daughter Isobel Stewart. They had two sons, Farquhar and Finlay.

Farquhar, the eldest son of Donald MacFearchar, is said to have resided in Glen Clunie at Coldrach. He is known to have have a number of children including:

  • Donald MacFearchar of Coldrach. He married Angus Shaw of Innermarkie's daughter. Donald was killed by his cousin James following a dispute over property boundaries when James had acquired Castleton. This started a fued between the families.

    Donald had a son - Farquhar of Coldrach. He married a daughter of Abergeldie. Farquhar was witness to his 2nd cousin Finlay's contract with Christian Grant on September 1588. He was residing at Camesnekist, just north of Coldrach. He is to have drowned in the Dee while trying to reach disputed land.

    Farquhar had four sons:
    • William Buidhe and he too lost his life in the dispute. He had a natural son named Donald Dow.

      Donald Dow had two sons:
      • Robert, who had two sons, Archibald and Robert. Archibald has a son John and Robert has a son Archibald as well as a daughter.
      • John.

      The remaining 3 brothers below took the name MacEracher and Shaw:

    • Robert who had a son Donald.
    • John who had a son Donald. Donald's son Alexander lived in Inverey.
    • Farquhar who had two sons and lived on the River Garry.

Finlay Mor, Donald MacFearchar's second son was born in 1487, and after his fathers death he succeeded through prowess and skill in establishing his family name throughout the district. He would be later styled as the 1st Chief of Clan Farquharson of Invercauld. He married twice, 1st to A Stewart of Kincardine and had 4 sons:

  • William Farquharson 2nd of Invercauld, the eldest son died without male issue. He married Beatrix Gordon, the daughter of Adam Gordon, Lord of Aboyne, son of the 2nd Earl of Huntly.
  • James Farquharson, died without male issue. He purchased Castleton of Braemar from the Clunie Gordon and settled there. He married and had 3 daughters.
  • Alexander Farquharson took up residence in Glen Tilt south of Braemar. He married a Stewart and had a son Lachlan who died without issue.
  • John Farquharson, the fourth son left Braemar and aquired possessions in Craigniety in Glen Isla, and from him descends the Farquharsons of Craigniety.

Finlay Mor married secondly to Beatrix Gardyne, daughter of George Gardyne of Gardyne and Banchory. They had 5 sons and a daughter:

  • Donald Farquharson 1st of Monaltrie , the eldest succeeded his half-brother James at Castleton of Braemar at his death in 1541. He married Janet Olgilvy, daughter of John Ogilvy of Inverquharity. He was appointed Baillie of Strathdee by George the 4th Earl of Huntly. From his family numerous branches of Farquharson descend.
  • Robert Farquharson 3rd of Invercauld, succeeded at Invercauld. He Married Marjory Robertson, daughter of John Robertson or Reid in Strathardie and had issue.
  • Lachlan Farquharson of Broughdearg, Kirkmichael. He married Grizel Campbell.
  • George Farquharson of Deskry and Glenconry.
  • Finlay Farquharson 1st of Auchriachan. He married Isobel Lyall and had issue. He married secondly Christian Grant, daughter of John Grant of Freuchie.

Finlay Mor accompanied the Earl of Huntly to the Battle of Pinkie in 1547 as the Royal Standard Bearer. He was the age of 60. He was struck and killed by a cannon ball fired from an enemy ship as the army marched towards the sea. His Farquharson descendants are extensive with numerous main and cadet branches - Invercauld, Finzean, Inverey, Balmoral as well as others. The descendants chiefs are styled MacFionnlaigh or siol Fhionnlaidh - the descendants of Finlay. The name Farquharson did not become fixed or finalized until the 1600's - so documents would still sometimes would be recorded as Mackintosh.


The MacKerchers

MacEracher - MacFearchar - MacKercher

Following the violent feud between Farquhar's children and grandchildren and that of his brother Finlay, Farquhar's remaining family and descendants subsequently made their way south to Atholl eventually settling around Loch Tay. This move would have occurred before or after 1541, the date of James Farquharson's death (as he precipitated the feud) - possibly as late as 1600.

These Children of Farquhar would keep the Gaelic name - MacErachar, eventually finalizing somewhat in early records as MacKercher in the 1700's. The MacKerchers around Loch Tay moved west into Glen Lyon and further west along the Loch eventually into Killin. Other descendants over time settled eastward down the Tay through Weem, Dull and Logierait. Those descendants in Dull would frequently be recorded as either MacKercher or as Farquharson, with their names finalizing as either. The MacKercher families and their descendants would come to represent large branches of Clann Fhearchair distinct from that of their cousins of Clann Fionnlaigh.

This description of origin is based on Farquharson accounts that show discrepancies. One account argues that the violent argument occurred between the sons of Farquhar Mackintosh's sons as opposed to that of his son Donald's sons. One account argues that the argument occurred between the brothers of Farquhar Mackintosh himself. It is believed that Farquhar had only one son however.

Early MacKerchers of Breadalbane

The McKerchers from Braemar initially settled in Breadalbane around Loch Tay and Roro in Glen Lyon.

The Black Book of Taymouth contains the Muster Rolls of Sir Robert Campbell 9th Laird of Glenorchy and Balloch. It details two McKerchers residing at the Port of Loch Tay in 1638, close to where the town of Kenmore stands today on the east side of the Loch.

  • Donald McKerrachar (alive 1638)
  • Gilchrist McKerrachar (alive 1638)

The Breadalbane Muniments - papers of the Earl of Breadalbane detail two more McKerchers - one in 1639 at Dunglass in Lawers, Kenmore on the north side the Loch. The other in 1683 at Inverinian in Glen Lyon Roro, east of Meggernie Castle.

  • Farquhar McAllaster VcKerracher (alive 1639)
  • Duncan McConochie VcKerracher (alive 1683)

Both of these have the full patronymical names of the McKerchers, revealing their fathers and their possible grandfather as Farquhar (or simply descendants of).

The parish records for Kenmore begin at about 1640, and with the records above show up to 15 families living in Kenmore parish - with one at least in Fortingall parish. This number reflects well with the theory of an arrival prior to 1600 from Braemar.

The McGregors of Roro had become established in Glen Lyon in the 15th century following the displacement of the Albany Stewarts. They became tenants of the Menzies of Weem. When the McKerchers of Braemar themselves arrived in the area they in turn became early tenants of the McGregors. The McKerchers were held in high regard by the McGregors - whom granted the custom of the first lifting upon the burial of a member of their clan. They became regular custodians or groundskeepers of the estate of Roro and eventually that of Meggernie Castle under the Campbells up to the 19th century.

Scottish Civil War 1644-45

In 1644 a civil war broke out between Scottish Royalists supporting Charles I and Covenanters allied with English Parliament. James Graham, the 1st Marquis of Montrose supported the King and campaigned against Archibald Campbell, the 1st Marquis of Argyll who opposed. He rapidly won a number of battles, cris-crossing the highlands pursuing Argyll. He ravaged and burned Breadalbane, as it was Campbell territory but spared Glen Lyon, as the MacGregors of Roro had raised their banner for Charles. The Farquharsons fielded and commanded regiments that accompied Montrose.

It has been speculated that McKerchers may have arrived in Breadalbane with Montrose, but records clearly indicate that they arrived earlier as noted above. McKerchers apppear in the records of the parish of Buchanan, residing on the estates of the Earl of Montrose, and subsequently intermarry with the Graham family. They also appear later in the parish of Port of Menteith. These families may be decended from either the Farquharson of McKerchers or might possibly be unrelated.

The parish records for Buchanan indicate 6 McKercher families, with dates starting in 1653, clearly after the war. This number lends credence to the theory that the family(s) may have arrived because of support for the Earl of Montrose in some manner.

Jacobite rising of 1689 and the Battles of Killiecrankie and Dunkeld

In 1689, John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount of Dundee and appointed lieutenant general for James II went north to raise troops to bring south to engage the armies of William the Protestant King. While John Murray the 1st Duke of Atholl was absent, his factor the Jacobite Stewart of Ballochie seized Blair Castle with Atholl men he himself raised. From there the army marched south to victory at Killiecrankie and subsequently defeat at Dunkeld. Meanwhile Robert Campbell the 5th of Glenlyon remained neutral - he had sold most of his estates to the Earl of Tullibardine and later Duke of Atholl John Murray - in 1684, except for the estate at Chestle. He was in deeply in debt and along with John Campbell, the Earl of Breadalbane remained out of the fray, later siding with William.

It is not known if McKerchers particpated in the Jacobite uprisings, as they were tenants of the Duke of Atholl, Campbells and Menzies - with only the latter openly siding with the royalists. The tenants often would be loyal to their Lairds, but would also be likely to follow their own inclinations.

Glencoe Massacre 1692

The MacLeans of Glencoe and Keppoch MacDonalds returning from the loss at Dunkeld decided to raid Glen Lyon in order to gather their winter stock. They chose Glen Lyon as the Robertsons of Atholl had fought with them, and they had a long established hatred of the Campbells. Robert Campbell the Laird was caught off guard and no opposition was mounted. The substantial goods and gear taken were taken to Glencoe and dispersed, never to be recovered. In late January 1692 Robert Campbell himself led 120 Earl of Argyll's men swept through Glencoe burning houses and slaying 37 men, women and children in retribution - with a further 40 left to die of exposure. It was government sanctioned - leading to a commision to investigate and hold the perpetrators accountable. It did not.

Two McKerchers are known to have been involved at Glencoe - a John and Duncan McKercher from Glen Lyon were present. It is not known whether they were part of the slaying or if they were in the parties that showed up afterwards.

MacKerchers of 1700

By 1700 the McKercher families along the south side of Loch Tay have migrated into Killin parish on the west side of Loch Tay at Ardeonaig. There are up to 9 families in Killin. They intermarried with Campbells and the McNab families.

In Kenmore parish there are 18 families, some residing on the north shore of Loch Tay at Lawers and the Fearnan - a glen connecting Glen Lyon with the Tay. More reside on the east shore on the Mains of Kenmore including the Port of Taymouth and Balloch Castle, with a few along the south shore around Remony.

In Fortingall parish in Glen Lyon there up to 6 or so families, but with parish records only available after 1750 or so this is likely a low estimate based on other sources. In Weem parish there are at least 4 families residing, but records are incomplete. Because Weem parish also includes part of Glen Lyon it is not known whether they were residing in the Glen or at Weem proper. The McKerchers have also moved into Dull and adjoining Logierait with 5 families present.

In Buchanan parish, there are 6 families and there is also a significant presence of McKerchers in Port of Menteith and adjoing Aberfoyle, with 9 and 5 families respectively. It is likely that these families are related and that there was movement from Buchanan into these parishes.

Jacobite rising of 1715

John Murray the 1st Marquis of Atholl took full possession of the barony of Glenlyon in 1703 from Robert Campbell, a few years before the above list was compiled. While publically loyal to the government, his sons participated in the rebellion of 1715 - including his son William Murray of Tullibardine.

The Princes's standard was raised at Castleton of Braemar on the 6th of September 1715. All of the Farquharsons were present, as the Earl of Mar held the war council that started the Jacobite uprising to restore James Stuart to the throne. William Murray of Tullibardine with his Atholl men marched with the Earl of Mar. The Earl of Breadalbane sent only 300 of his men.

It is not certain, but possible that McKerchers would have participated.

Jacobite rising of 1745

John Murray's son William accompanied Prince Charles from France, and upon returning to Scotland and personally unfurled the standard at Glenfinnan on the 16th of August 1745. He took possession of Blair Castle as Duke of Atholl and proceeded to rally men to the cause.

The Atholl Brigade consisted of 3 battalions under the Duke, Menzies of Weem, and Robertson of Struan. It is documented to have included the McGregors of Roro - coming from Rannoch and Glen Lyon, who served as officers and lieutenants. John Campbell of Glenlyon too old for service himself - sent his men. Again it is not certain, but possible that McKerchers would have been in the brigade. The brigade suffered heavily at the Battle of Culloden on the 16th April 1746. None are listed among the officers as being killed, wounded or captured or particpating, but they would have been simple enlisted men.

The Farquharsons fielded men and commanding forces throughout the campaigns and were present in force at the Battle of Culloden.

The American Revolution 1765-1783

A number of families in Breadalbane including a few McKerchers from Roro made their way to the Americas for a new life, settling in New York prior to the beginning of the American revolution sometime after 1741. They made their way upstate and established the settlement of Broadalbin in Montgomery County - now Fulton County. The outbreak of war found families divided over loyalties. Some families moved to Canada following the war as United Empire Loyalists. They would establish new settlements such as Glengarry County in eastern Ontario as well as Nova Scotia. The non-military McKerchers stayed in the newly founded United States, and their descendants spread west across the nation, establishing settlements with names from their home country.

One McKercher came to New York as part of the military, serving in the King's Royal Regiment of New York. Following the war he settled in Montreal, Canada where he established himself as a brewer.

The Moss

The Carse of Stirling is a flood plain along the river Forth, demarcating the boundary between Perthshire and Stirlingshire. It is a dense marsh and peat bog swamp of exceptional size. Lord Kames of Blair Drummond began a reclaimation project to create new farm land following 1766 and began to began to invite new tenants seeking opportunity. A large number of tenants came from Balquhidder parish. A number of McKercher families residing there at that time along with realtives from Breadalbane made there way to what would be called "The Moss". McKerchers from the Port of Menteith families would also move to the moss. Together, they all resided at Kincardine-in-Menteith and Blair Drummond.

The leases for these new comers expired by 1840, so most sold their leases prior and moved on. Most made their way to urban areas like Glasgow, Stirling or Falkirk.

MacKerchers after 1800

By 1800 the McKercher families have multiplied significantly and spread into new parishes. The Earl of Breadalbane made changes to the land management scheme and caused a large number of families to move to the lowlands and overseas. The urban centers of Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow attracted many.

The War of 1812 brought a number of McKerchers to Canada, with some settling in sponsored Military Settlements in Quebec at St. Andrews East, and in Ontario at Perth. Following 1820, there were waves of McKerchers who would immigrate abroad to Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand seeking a new life.