BORN at Gartmore in 1846, and educated at Dalmary School there, and St. Enoch School and the Andersonian University in Glasgow, Colonel McFarlane began business life at the age of sixteen with his brother Robert at Helensburgh. Afterwards he spent four years in a grain store in Glasgow. Then in 1869 he began business for himself as a grain merchant in North Street with his brother Malcolm, who retired some twenty-four years ago. The firm had a branch in Coleraine, and a number of agencies in West Africa, and at the present hour has far-spreading interests and connections. More recently his firm secured the business and premises of Henry Lawson & Sons, job masters, Berkeley Street, which has been greatly extended and improved. Colonel McFarlane began public life as a reforming member of the Barony Parochial Board, and he entered the Town Council in 1884 as a representative of the old twelfth ward, now the fourteenth. There he has served the city for some twenty-three years, of which he was a Magistrate for four; and as convener of the Statute Labour Committee he had the honour of laying the foundation stones of three bridges - Millbrae Bridge over the Cart, Rutherglen Bridge over the Clyde, and Kirklee Bridge over the Kelvin. Among other work of city improvement in which he has had a chief share has been the widening of Sandyford Street, Woodlands Road, and Pollokshaws Road, and he had a large share in the mapping out of the city into new divisions some years ago. He is also a member of the Clyde Trust, and Preceptor of Hutchesons' Hospital.
His first commission in the Volunteers dates from 11th April, 1872. After three years in the 1st Dunbarton regiment he joined the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers, in which he rose step by step to the position of Colonel Commandant. An enthusiast for the cause, he was the originator of "marches out," and among memorable exploits he conducted the famous midnight march to Lenzie and the three days' march to Gartmore and round Loch Katrine. He has also been the organiser of military tournaments on occasions of public rejoicing, and notably of the grand tournament in Queen's Park on the occasion of their Majesties' coronation. In 1906 he was decorated by the King with membership of the Victorian Order, and though he latterly resigned from the Volunteers he retains his uniform and rank, as well as enthusiasm for Territorial affairs.
An enthusiastic horseman and shot, he still finds time to attend to many social interests. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and of the Merchants' House, and a past President of the Perthshire Benevolent Society. He is also a Freemason, a Free Gardener, a Forester, and a member of the Glasgow Liberal Club and the Royal Clyde Yacht Club. He is a keen politician, and has been President of Glasgow Central Liberal Association.
Colonel McFarlane married in 1872, Marion Buchanan, daughter of William McCallum, portioner, Glasgow, and has three sons and three daughters.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)