The Farquharsons

The Farquharsons of Moulin, Straloch, and Kirkmichael

Tom Buchan

John Farquharson

John was born in Moulin c 1764 and booked for marriage on 8 March 1792 to Isabel Robertson, a native of Blair Atholl parish. He was a sheep farmer at Glenfernate, Straloch. John and Isabel had 10 children, 9 sons and 1 daughter. Their children (see below) were – Alexander 1793, John 1794, Donald 1796, Archibald 1800, Finlay 1802, Robert 1804, Isabella 1806, Thomas 1808, Patrick known as Peter 1809, and Charles 1811.

Rev Alexander Farquharson (1793-1858)

Rev AlexanderAlexander left school to work on his father’s farm and later joined the Perthshire Infantry reaching the rank of Lieutenant before, aged 28, enrolling at Perth College and after attending classes at St Andrews University; he became a Presbyterian Minister who immigrated to Middle River, Cape Breton, Canada in 1833 where he served the Middle River congregation for 24 years.  During this time his recommendation that the establishment of the Scottish parochial system be reproduced in Cape Breton was accepted. He is buried in Middle River Cemetery alongside his wife Ann McKenzie and 2 of their children who died young. “The Farquharson Memorial Church” is a church named after him which stands opposite the cemetery in Middle River. A synopsis of his ministerial life is recorded in the book The Well Watered Garden(Author- Laurie Stanley). His eldest son Rev Alexander Farquharson Jnr (1838-1892) followed his father into the ministry and served the Parish of Sydney, Nova Scotia until his death.

Donald Farquharson (1796-1887)

Donald married Mary McKenzie in Moulin and had 7 children. Isabella 1828, Mary Ann 1830, John 1832 (see below), Jean 1836, Alexander 1838, Archibald 1840 and Charles 1841. He farmed at Glenfernate, Poloskie of Straloch, Persie and Glenisla and died in Alyth.

John Farquharson (1832-1903)

John FarquharsonOne of his sons, John (pictured left), achieved fame as a gamekeeper, poacher, sharpshooter and inventor of the patented ‘Farquharson Falling Block Rifle’ He was gamekeeper to Lord Abercromby for 3 years and then served for 9 years to Lord Roseberry. After this he turned to poaching where he truly personified the gamekeeper turned poacher He was a champion shot and won in excess of 30 national competitions.  When he won the King of Belgians Cup in Belgium, this was the equivalent of the World Championship for marksmen. In the period up to 1872 the main aim of gunsmiths was to make a breech action that would extract the empty cartridge and re-cock the rifle by one and the same movement. Some ideas of the difficulties he faced may be faced by the fact that his invention patented in 1872 was perfected not in a well-finished gun shop but in a small cottage on Dunay, Blacklunans in the Blackwater district. So hampered was he by the lack of proper tools and materials that he carved his prototype breech mechanism from a turnip. On the 25th of May that year he petitioned for the Great Seal to Letters Patent for “Improvements on Breech Loading Firearms” He is also credited with adopting a shooting position, (lying on his back and shooting over his right shoulder) which was copied extensively by others.

A book “The Romance of Poaching in the Highlands of Scotland” records his exploits.

Rev Archibald Farquharson (1800-1878)

Rev ArchibaldArchibald Farquharson was born in 1800 at Moulin in Perthshire. He underwent a religious conversion in 1818, influenced by his older brother Alexander. After working some years as a gamekeeper for James Douglas of Cavers, he left for Glasgow to study at the University and Theological College. He began his ministry in Greenock and Paisley.

In 1825 he married Mary McDonald in Logierait and in 1831 he was sent to Tiree as an Independent missionary and the following year moved there with his wife and their two young daughters, Elizabeth and Isabella. Seven weeks after his arrival, his wife died. Despite this, he determined to stay in Tiree for the rest of his life. The Independent Church in Tiree was established in 1832 and over the next three years chapels were erected at Cornaig and Ruaig. He wrote 3 books (2 of Gaelic poems and songs and one on the need for the promulgation of the Gaelic Language).These books can be accessed at The National Library of Scotland. He has been described as one of the greatest composers of Gaelic Hymns and poetry.


Kirkmichael Church WW1 Memorial

There is a WW1 memorial in Kirkmichael Church to a John Farquharson of Straloch. Private 1st Royal Scots

The memorial refers to John Farquharson (Private/Guardsman No. 11804 in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards) who died of wounds in France on 9.4.16. John was the son of Alexander Farquharson and Jane Menzies. In the 1911 census John and his father were Gamekeepers at Straloch.

This page was added by Sally Gingell on 19/11/2013.

Comments about this page

  • Re the comment about Tiree. Archibald was the brother who ministered in Tiree. I contacted the Tiree site about their error. No Joy

    By Tom Buchan (29/02/2020)
  • I am confused, please see the article about Farquharson in Tiree; they claim both Archibald and Alexander in the same article, I wonder if we know which is correct. Also, do you know of any link with Colonsay (perhaps through Rev. Sinclair?). There is an old story of a Congregational movement in Colonsay at one time.

    By Kevin Byrne (04/05/2018)
  • My great Uncle Charles Douglas married a
    Mary Ann Farquarson

    My father Archibald Douglas told me many stories about John Farquarson . 1832/1903.
    I still have the tool that he used to make his own 1 bore ammunition ,I also had his leather gunpowder pouches and other bits and pieces but they have been misplaced/lost.
    I also have some birth /death certificates .
    Please let me know if you want copies/ photos

    By Archie Douglas (23/04/2018)
  • Dear Archie
    Yes please. Any information would be very useful. I have a little on John Farquharson so any additional information will help tell the story of him.
    You can load direct onto the archive site or if you prefer sent them to me at: Pat Townsend,Balvarran Farm House, Enochdhu, Blairgowrie, Perthshire. Ph10 7PA. I am a volunteer on the archive. Thanks for thinking of us we must keep on recording the past before its lost.

    Thanks again

    By Pat Townsend (26/04/2018)
  • The last line on the article viz; “He has been described as one of the greatest composers of Gaelic Hymns and poetry.” does not refer to John (the soldier).
    It should be added to the Rev Archibald Farquharson

    By Tom Buchan (22/11/2013)
  • Thanks, Tom. I’ve changed that now.

    By Richard Stratton (24/11/2013)

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