Arrochar Tarbet and Ardlui Heritage Group




                     Old Part - 39 > Cap. Andrew Macffarlan, Jane Home Macffarlan, Alex Norman Macffarlan                 | Cemetery |

Norman FacffarlanNorman  Macffarlan

The inscription reads: -

"Sacred to the memory of Cap. ANDREW MACFFARLAN of the 91. Argyleshire Regiment, who died 4th Jan 1859, aged 80 years.

And his spouse JANE HOME MACFFARLAN of the Gordon family who died at Callander 14th September aged 87 years.

Also their son ALEX NORMAN MACFFARLAN, The Cottage Callander, who died at Callander 19th May 1918."


Here is an article primarily about Capt. Andrew's son Alexander Norman but also containing some information on Capt. Andrew.



NORMAN was one of the most kenspeckle and interesting figures in Callander, during the greater part of his long lifetime) of well over three score years and ten. His unconventional and picturesque personality was familiar to everyone, including successive generations of summer visitors with many of whom Norman established friendly relations.

Alexander Norman Macfarlan was born in the Cottage, Bridgend, Callander, in December, 1842. He was descended from the Macfarlans of Macfarlan of Arrochar, his father being Captain Andrew Macfarlan of the 91st Regiment of foot) a soldier of distinction, who fought under Sir John Moore at the Battle of Corunna. Norman's mother, the Captain's second wife, was Jane Home or Hume, of the Homes of Gordon, Berwickshire. A twin brother of Norman's, Home Macfarlan, a handsome and promising lad, died in his teens, just as he was preparing to follow his father in a military career,

The Captain spent his retired years in the Bridgend, and was long remembered as an upright, blunt soldier of the old school, " an officer and a gentleman," of punctilious habits, but generous to the poor and kind to the children of the neighbourhood, providing for them a treat every Hansel Monday for many years. He died in 1859, having lived to a great age.

The Captain's widow lived in close retirement after her husband's death, and only on very rare occasions did she appear in public. At such times her uncommon appearance attracted much attention. Dressed in a style that was in high fashion in the Early Victorian period, she passed along the street with slow and dignified steps, a vision of a bygone age. She spoke no unnecessary word and her business accomplished, she resumed her retirement, perhaps for many months. That she shared to the full the patriotic fervour of her husband was manifested, not by words, but by unmistakable signs. On the anniversary of Waterloo, so long as she lived, there never failed to be made from the upper windows of Bridgend Cottage a gorgeous display of regimental and national flags, the Captain's sword and decorations, as well as other emblems of national pride in the famous victory. On the anniversary of Queen Victoria's birthday, the exhibitions were generally reproduced. After many years of solitary and secluded life, Mrs. Macfarlan died in 1893 at the age of ninety-two.

From an early age, Norman displayed the instinct of his race in a passion for sport. When but a mere boy, he carried his fowling-piece and soon became an expert as a somewhat reckless shot. He was a keen and successful angler, and there was no stream or mountain loch within a wide radius of his home that he did not thoroughly explore.

Inheriting a splendid physique he did not know in those days what fatigue meant, and even in old age he could cover an astonishing distance on foot. It would appear that as he grew up to manhood, bereft of the guidance and control of his father, Norman followed very much the primitive instinct of the " wild Macfarlans " from whom he had sprung, and spent his days, and many of his nights, on the moors and lochs. It is not surprising that his companions in such adventures were not always chosen from among those of his own social station) but were selected for their skill and daring in the particular enterprise on hand. And so it followed that Norman's associates were sometimes not regarded as altogether suitable for the scion of an ancient house. But one friend of those days, a partner in various lawless adventures, may be named;  James Macgregor of Glengyle. Macgregor afterwards fell on evil days and it was characteristic of Norman that, as far as lay in his power, he did not desert his old friend in his adversity. It is remembered also that, when Macgregor was borne with somewhat belated glory to the burying place of his fathers at Glengyle, Norman appeared at the graveside, accomplishing the long journey from Callander and back on foot.

A collision with the authorities of the law in connection with certain shooting exploits ended disastrously for Norman, and for a considerable period he was deprived of what he most valued-his liberty. One of the manly accomplishments which he had acquired in his youth was the art of swimming. He was perfectly at home in the water and was probably the best master of the art of swimming and diving ever known in the district. He taught many generations of boys to swim and in his day he saved not a few persons from death by drowning.

On a summer day many years ago a party of excursionists were walking by the river side path towards Loch Vennachar. The pool just below the meeting of the waters looked very inviting) and some of the younger members of the party went into bathe. There was much fun at first, but suddenly a youth got into difficulties and called for help. Unfortunately none of the party were much good, A tragedy seemed imminent and shouts and screams for assistance were raised. It was then that the figure of a strong young man was seen rushing to the rescue.

It was Norman) stripping off his clothes as he ran. He had been at work in his garden and had heard the cries. He was only just m time) for the poor lad was sinking for the third time. Without a word Norman dived into the deep river, got underneath the drowning man, and skilfully guided the helpless youth towards the bank. With the help of willing hands under Norman's experienced guidance the usual remedies proved effective and consciousness gradually retained. As soon as the man's recovery seemed assured, Norman, without a word, quietly withdrew and proceeded back to his work. Surprised and ashamed, members of the party ran after him and pressed on Norman their thanks and gifts of money. But Norman, picking up his jacket, courteously waved them off. A gentleman in the crowd enquired of a native who the rescuer was and Norman was duly described. " Well at any rate, " said the visitor, " He is as brave a fellow as I have ever seen and a great gentleman besides." In many cases, it can be recalled of fatal drowning accidents in the neighbourhood it was Norman who recovered the bodies from the water.

It happened that in the days of his " durance vile " Norman was separated from freedom by one of the broadest of our great Scottish rivers. One morning be astonished his captors by swimming across the river fully clad apparently with the utmost ease.

Eventually, through the intervention of friends, Norman regained his freedom and for fully forty years he resided among his own friends in Callander. Up to within a few years of his death he fished a great deal in the season and even contemplated writing a history of his fishing adventures. Every indulgence was shown to him by owners of fishing's and he was free to ply his art, as he did with consummate skill on all the lochs and streams in the neighbourhood. Many a lordly salmon was captured by him in the Teith. On one occasion, a non-resident proprietor, not knowing Norman and the privileges accorded to him, raised a prosecution against him for fishing.

Norman insisted on putting in a defence in court and to the astonishment of his friends he scored a victory and was acquitted on a technical point of law. It is said that his lawyer got no pecuniary fee, but a few days afterwards he was the recipient of a fine salmon sent by Norman. His services were in frequent request as a boatman, as his knowledge of angling embraced all that was worth knowing.

But, be assessed his own value at a high rate and his remuneration had to be adequate. There were many anecdotes in circulation which point to the fact that if the angler employing Norman did not treat him with sufficient respect and appropriate hospitality, the sport of the day would turn out exceedingly meagre.

Norman busied himself with many schemes and projects which sometimes showed wonderful flashes of originality. One of his earliest proposals for the development of Callander was the formation of an open waterway from Callander Bridge to the top of Loch Katrine. In the region of speculative enterprise Norman's imagination knew no limits, and if all his projects for the development of the business of life and things in general were to be detailed an amazing and bulky volume would be the result.

For years Norman's rich fancy was so busily at work that he turned out " patents " day by day by the score.

They covered every field of human activity. He had implicit belief in the miraculous power of lodestone, and produced a " patent " which would enable a lame man to walk effortlessly, with incredible speed, by the use of " lodestone " crutches. The speed of the Trossachs four-in-hand coaches was to be doubled by yoking four

horses to each end of the coach. There were sceptics who doubted the possibility of doing the journey quicker in this method, but Norman gave a convincing demonstration by trotting along the pavement, first foremost and then backwards. He was satisfied that the plan would revolutionise vehicular traffic. Deeply interested in Education, he lived near the High School-Norman lamented the length of time spent by a student preparing for a professional career. He evolved a plan whereby years of the drudgery of study could be saved. By putting a student into the end of a large tube, charged with educational mechanism, he would emerge at the other end, in a brief space of time, a fully equipped teacher, minister, or doctor, as desired.

With the vast wealth acquired from his " patents," Norman, in imagination, became the owner of numerous landed estates and large commercial concerns. His great aim was the betterment of the lot of the poor, and he conceived the idea of creating a vast vat of beer from which pipes would carry a supply to the kitchen sink of every humble home, to be turned on and off by a spigot as required.

The craggens, overlooking the Bridgend, was a favoured retreat of Norman's. On many a summer's day he lay stretched at full length on the " big stane," a well-remembered massive boulder with a flat surface, gazing on the scenes of his boyhood and reflecting philosophically on the coming and passing of the generations of men.

Norman's nature was in reality of the most unselfish and kindly character. His own wants were of the simplest and he never failed to act a neighbour's part when it was in his power to do so. A well-known countryman had taken too many drams at a market, and, late on a frosty night, had fallen asleep by the roadside not far from where Norman lived. Two passers-by raised the unfortunate man to his feet, but his home was some miles distant, and the only refuge for the night they could think of was Norman's house. So there they carried him. Norman was in his bed, sound asleep, but wakened up when the intruders lighted a candle and explained the object of their mission. Norman took in the situation at a glance and made the laconic request, " put him to the back."

Norman had an instinctive appreciation of all natural things. The hills and the floods, and all the familiar landmarks around his native place were much in his mind.

He loved the wild creatures of the woods and moors and all their ways were familiar to him. It was characteristic of him to express the wish in his old age that after he was gone he could hear " the grouse cock crowing on his grave." There was no rancour in Norman and he had wonderful patience with a lot that was at times out of keeping with his aspirations. Indeed, he could on occasion display a dignity that bespoke the horn gentleman. He for some time conducted a voluminous

correspondence and with a pride m his family history he could assume the part of a potentate, and enjoy in imagination what had been denied him in actuality. He was very particular with the spelling of his name " Macffarlan " and liked to distinguish himself from those of his clan who adopted the usual spelling. He was the sole surviving descendant of Macffarlan or Macfarlan and his claim to be chief of his clan was generally recognised. He was loyal to those who stood by him, and had an especial liking for " old Bridgenders." There was a deep religious strain in his nature, which sometimes found expression in curious ways. He had been known to offer an odd but sincere prayer by the death-bed of an old friend; and he never spoke of sacred things with irreverence. Few who were present will forget the curious sensation that was created among the crowd assembled to hear the official proclamation of George V. as King from the steps of the Parish Church, when Norman interjected a claim for the recognition of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Norman died in May 1918, at the age of seventy-six after a few weeks' illness. His remains were laid with the dust of his fathers in the family tomb in the centre of the enclosure reserved for the " Macffarlans or Macfarlans of that ilk" and the tombstone records the memory of his famous ancestors buried in "the choir of the church of Arroquhar."

Norman's name was added to the stone by his own instructions some years before his death. The removal of his remains to his ancestral burying place was one of the ambitions of his life, and it was a special satisfaction to all who knew him that his wishes were carried out with becoming respect. The old vault under the shadow last of a great race: " There he lies where he wished to be."

Under his last Will and Testament, the remains of Norman's fortune was bequeathed to the poor of Callander, and his name will be remembered with gratitude by those, who, for all time, will share in the benefits of" the Norman Macfarlan Charitable Bequest."



The information in this page was kindly provided by Andrew Macfarlane, New Zealand


If you have a loved one and would like a page made up for them please EMAIL HOWARD - include as much information as you have and please include the text from the grave stone. Pictures are also welcome.


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