Although I am a third and fourth generation Australian, I have long wanted to have a connection to my ancestral Scottish clan. But the McKinlay name is claimed by several clans and it’s difficult to determine to which one might belong. Macfarlane one of the clans with which the McKinlay name is associated. The MacFarlane traditional lands at the heads of Loch Long and Loch Lomond are not far from Dunbartonshire, the home of my ancestors back to 1730 at least.
One of my great-great-grandmothers was a MacFarlane. Jean McFarlane was (1812-1883), daughter of Donald McFarlane (1776-1842) and Janet McKinlay (1781-1859). She migrated to Dunedin, New Zealand, with her husband Robert. Her son, Donald McKinlay, (1840-1926) followed his parents to New Zealand in 1865. Donald later brought his own family to Australia, when his son Alexander Mitchell, my New Zealand-born grandfather, was just was two years old.
Jean’s father, Donald McFarlane was the son of Malcolm MacFarlan, (b.1737) whose wife may have been Anne (Nanny) Cameron (b.1741). Malcolm MacFarlan’s father may have been one John McFarlan, who married Janet McHutchon at Luss in Dunbartonshire, on 8 May 1736.
The traditional way to join a clan is to be accepted by its Chief. Sadly, the MacFarlane chiefship is dormant. The last Chief died childless in 1866. In Gilchrist, son of Alwyn, Earl of Lennox, received lands at Arrochar on the shores of Loch Long in 1225 and is accepted as the first Chief of the MacFarlanes. The long and complex history is summarised well on the Clan MacFarlane Society website. The Society is working to find a living descendant of Gilchrist whose claim to the chiefship can be proven. In the meantime, the Society is keeper of the identity of the clan and I am glad to be a life member.