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About the study

The Farquhar One-Name Study was begun in 1970 by my husband, Malcolm (Mac) McDonald. His mother's maiden name was Farquhar. From tracing her ancestors he became so interested in the name and the family history that he decided to collect data on all Farquhars all around the world. In our travels we have met and made friends with many wonderful people who are also interested in their Farquhar family history. The name was registered with the Guild in 1992. I took over the study after Mac passed away in August 2016, and I welcome any queries about Farquhar genealogy, and would also appreciate any information which helps expand our knowledge.

Variant names

The name appears in various different spellings, such as Farquahar, Farquar, Farquer, Fargher, Farghar, Farragher, Farquher, Farker, Farkar and Forker. These changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son, and scribes and church officials recorded the name from its sound. However, the spelling Farquhar is the one most often seen.

Name origin

The surname FARQUHAR is of Celtic origin and is derived from the Gaelic word 'Ver-car-or'€, which later became 'œFearcha'€, or '€œFerchard'€ and several other variants in the 12th century and later. The meaning has been variously translated as '€œBeloved Man'€ or 'Very Dear One'€.

The Farquhars have, on the whole, been characterized by physical vitality and in many cases by practicality and resourcefulness; traits which have contributed to their success in business and in professional pursuits. Many of the name have been prominent in public service, and still others have shown literary talent.

Historical occurrences of the name

Ferchar was the father of Fergus, who was one of those appointed to fix the boundaries of the lands of Newbattle Abbey and his name appears in a Charter in 1178. Towards the end of the 12th century the second Earl of Strathern was named Farquhard, and a grandson of his bore the name Ferquhard.

One main branch of Farquhars lived in Ayrshire in the lowlands of Scotland. They resided on the estate of Gilmilnscroft, near Sorn, for many generations, as far back as the late 1300’s. The first recorded is Robert Farquhar who was the Laird of Gilmilnscroft toward the end of the fourteenth century. He died before 1407, and the line continued for about eleven generations until a Jane Farquhar became heiress to the Gilmilnscroft estates, which she carried with her into the Gray family upon her marriage to John Gray of Kilmerdenny. Their children were called 'Gray-Farquhar'€.

The estate of Gilmilnscroft lies in the heart of 'œBurns Country', and stands above the village of Sorn some fifteen miles from Ayr. John Gray Farquhar was a friend of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns, and is thought to have been the Justice who performed the marriage ceremony between Burns and Jean Armour in Gavin Hamilton's house in Mauchline.

A branch of the above-mentioned Ayrshire family seems to have settled very early in Aberdeenshire. Members of this branch included Sir Robert Farquhar of Lenturk, knight, who was Provost of Aberdeen in 1661. His great grandson was the eminent physician, Sir Walter Farquhar, baronet, son of the Rev. Robert Farquhar, who for many years was the minister of Chapel of Garioch.

Other famous and notable Farquhars are:

George Farquhar (c. 1677-1707). Playwright, born in Londonderry, Co. Derry, Ireland.

Sir Walter Farquhar (1738-1819) was an eminent physician who lived for a while in Gibraltar, before building up an extensive practice in London. He was the confidential medical advisor to the Prime Minister, William Pitt, and Lord Melville, and was one of the physicians to the Prince of Wales, later George IV.

Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), born in Newhall, Kincardineshire, In 1803 he was appointed 1st British Resident and Commandant of Melaka. From 1819 to 1823 he served as the Commandant of Singapore. One of his brothers, Arthur Farquhar, was a Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy, and was later knighted. Sir Arthur Farquhar'€™s son, Sir Arthur Farquhar (1815-1908) and his grandson, Sir Arthur Murray Farquhar (1855-1937) were also British admirals.

Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar (1776-1830) the second son of Sir Walter Farquhar, the physician, was the Commercial Resident at Amboyna, and afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of Palo-Penang. At the Peace of Amiens in 1802, he was appointed Commissioner for adjudicating the British claims in the Moluccas, and to deliver up those islands to the Batavian republic. In 1812 he was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Island of Mauritius, and stayed in that office until 1823.

James L. Farquhar (1807-1873) of Washington Co., Texas, was one of the original fifteen, and longest-serving, trustees of Baylor University, the world's largest Baptist university and the oldest university in Texas. James was the grandson of James Farquhar and Sarah Lockhart.

George Farquhar was the editor of the Glasgow Evening News for many years in the early 20th century. His son, George, also worked for the paper, first as a reporter and latterly as the financial editor.

Robert D. Farquhar (1872-1967) was a prominent Southern California architect. He designed, among other structures, the 1915 San Francisco Exposition's Festival Hall, the California Club in Los Angeles and the Clark Memorial Library, now part of U.C.L.A. He was also the chief architect of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Francis Peloubet Farquhar (1887-1974), brother to Robert D. Farquhar, was a distinguished California mountaineer, bibliophile, conservationist and historian of the Sierra Nevada. He was twice president of the Sierra Club (1933-35 and 1948-49). He was President of the California Historical Society 1960-62 and President of the California Academy of Sciences 1950-53.

Name frequency

In the 1841 Census of Scotland there were about 1,310 people with the name Farquhar. This grew to just over 2,000 in the 1881 Census, and to around 2,500 in the 1911 Census. In 1841 in England and Wales, the Census lists about 130 Farquhars, which grew to about 350 in 1881 and to 600 in the 1911 Census. In the United States, the Census records show that there were about 500 Farquhars and variants in 1850, which increased to around 1,000 in 1880 and to 2,200 in 1910.

Distribution of the name

The name Farquhar originated in Scotland, and today the name can be found in Ireland, England, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as other countries to which Farquhars have migrated.

The first known Farquhar immigrants to the United States arrived in the eighteenth century, together with many other Scotch and Scotch-Irish settlers. One large branch of the family in the U.S. originated from Allen Farquhar, a Quaker, who was born in Scotland around 1680, but who moved to Ireland because of religious persecution. He and his sons, Allen and William, went to America from Ireland around 1725. He first made his home in Chester County, Pa., but soon moved to Pipe Creek, Md. His son, William, had nine children and many of them also had large families, and thus started a long line of Farquhar descendants in America.

Another branch of the Farquhars in America is descended from Captain James Farquhar of North Carolina. Many details about James Farquhar'€™s life are unknown, including his parentage and his place and date of birth. But during his life he fought in the Revolutionary War, acquired a great deal of property, became a prosperous farmer and millwright, and founded a family whose members and descendants joined the Westward Movement and eventually inhabited almost all of the Southern States. The first record of James Farquhar is in 1768 in Orange County, North Carolina and he married Sarah Lockhart in the 1770'€™s.


The Farquhar One-Name Study presently has over 48,000 records in its database. We have collected all the births, marriages and deaths in Scotland from parish and civil registration records (the latter started in 1855), and in England, civil registration (1837 onwards) and from as many other sources as are available in other countries. We have also collected the data from census records in Scotland, England, Canada and the U.S. Many correspondents have also supplied their family information. Wherever possible the data has been grouped into family trees and charts which show all the known generations.


A Farquhar DNA Project has been established with FamilyTreeDNA and we encourage any males with the surname Farquhar to join the group and submit a DNA sample. Our goal is to try to establish links between the many branches of the Farquhar family.

For further information go here.