Macfarlan, Walter (DNB00)

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MACFARLAN, WALTER (d. 1767), antiquary, second son of John Macfarlan of Arrochar and Helen, daughter of Robert, second viscount Arbuthnot, succeeded his father in 1705. From his early years Macfarlan devoted himself to antiquarian research connected with the history of Scotland. Ecclesiastical records specially attracted him, and he employed a clerk named Tait to make copies of most of the cartularies accessible to him; the copies are notable for their accuracy and neatness. Macfarlan appears to have held strict views on etiquette. 'The late laird of Macfarlan, an eminent genealogist,' wrote Dr. Johnson in his 'Hebridean Tour,' p. 134, 'considered himself as disrespectfully treated if the common addition [i.e. Mr.] was applied to him. "Mr. Macarlan," said he, "may with equal propriety be said to many; but I, and I only, am Macfarlan." ' He died at his house in Canongate, Edinburgh, on 6 June 1767. His library was sold, and the Faculty of Advocates purchased in 1785 his manuscripts, of which there have been printed the cartularies of Aberdeen, Arbroath, Balmerino, Dryburgh, Dunfermline, Kelso, Lindores, Melrose, Moray, St. Andrews, and Scone. These were extensively used by Douglas in his 'Peerage of Scotland,' Macfarlan married in 1760 Lady Elizabeth Erskine, daughter of Alexander, sixth earl of Kelly, and left a son Walter. There is a portrait of Macfarlan in the library of the Society of Scots Antiquaries, which was engraved in 1846. Another by J. T. Seaton, in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, was engraved in mezzotint by Alexander Hay.

[Gent. Mag. 1767; Scots Magazine; Johnson's Hebridean Tour; Douglas's Baronage of Scotland; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iv. 406, 509; Turnbull's Catalogue of Faculty of Advocates' Library; Irving's Eminent Scotsmen; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]

A. F. P.