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The Scotch Ancestry of the MacFarrens


To the Editor of the Musical Times

SIR,-In the October issue of your journal I had hoped to find a biographical article on the late Walter Cecil MacFarren, but I observe there is only a paragraph in which the reader is referred to a biographical sketch which appeared in your issue of January 1898. In that article there is a paragraph which reads as follows: 'The subject of our sketch is often taken to be a Scotchman by reason of the "Mac" in his name; but he can lay no claim to that nationality. Once, at a Scotch banquet, he felt much aggrieved at finding his "Highland War Song," for male voices, set down in the programmes "Traditional". Permit me to say that the writer of that biographical sketch was not well-informed. Not only was Walter Macfarren connected with Scotland, but he and his brothers George, John, and probably Basil, owed everything to their grandfather, John Jackson, son of William Jackson, a farmer living at the 'Barns of Clyde,' New Kilpatrick, Glasgow. This John Jackson would have been born about 1750 to 1755. He learned the trade of a bookbinder in Glasgow about the year 1780. He removed to London, and became so successful that he bought the house, No. 24, Villiers Street, Strand, for something over 836, and in which Sir George and Walter Macfarren were both born. He had a son and a daughter. The son, a distinguished artist, died in 1874, and the daughter, Susannah, married George Macfarren.

The Jackson family had many distinguished members. In the parish church burying-ground of Eastwood, near Glasgow, there is a stone to the memory of Andrew Jackson, dated 1663. This was just before the outbreak of the Covenanting persecution of Claverhouse when many ancestors of the Macfarren fought at Bothwells ridge, and many were martyred. George Jackson was executed in Edinburgh in 1684 for fighting at Bothwell Bridge. Thomas Jackson was despatched to plantations in Virginia, but was done to death on the passage. John and Annatella Jackson were sent to the same place, but perished by shipwreck on the voyage.

William Jackson refused to take the oath of abjuration and, upon being banished from Scotland, he settled near Londonderry. President Andrew Jackson and General Stonewall Jackson were his descendants; so that the Macfarren came of people of talent.

I could enlarge upon the Jackson branch of the family, but I have said enough to clearly show that it was the Scottish blood in the Macfarrens' veins which raised them to the position they occupied.

Yours very truly,
JOHN H. JACKSON.
167, West Regent Street, Glasgow.
October 28, 1905.

[So far as the Macfarrens are concerned, the above interesting information-with its patriotic ring of 'Scotland for ever' - is for the most part confirmed in H. C. Banister's 'George Alexander Macfarren, his life, works, and influence' (1892); at the same time it is only fair to this Journal to say that the material for the biographical sketch of the late Mr. Walter Macfarren was obtained from that gentleman's own lips, and that he read and corrected a proof of the article. Doubtless he should have qualified the ancestry statement to the effect that he could not claim Scotch nationality on his father's side, despite his northern patronymic.-ED. M. T.]


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