Captain Alwyne Arthur Compton Farquharson M.C. of Invercauld and Monaltrie, 16th Chief of Clan Farquharson, died on Wednesday October 6, at his home in Valley Farm, Norfolk at the age of 102.
Alwyne is believed to have been Scotland’s oldest and longest serving clan chief and was chieftain of the Ballater Highland Games on Deeside for 73 years. He served in the Second World War and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery during the Normandy Landings.
Alwyne was born on May 1 1919, eldest son of Major Edward Compton of Newby Hall in Yorkshire and Sylvia Farquharson, younger daughter of Alexander Haldane Farquharson of Invercauld.
Alwyne’s Aunt Myrtle, who had inherited Invercauld and who was the elder sister of his mother Sylvia, was killed in a bombing raid in 1941. Shortly after the end of the Second World War, Alwyne moved to Aberdeenshire to assume the role of Chief and become the 16th Laird of Invercauld, roles he cherished for many decades.
Alwyne dedicated himself to becoming a responsible and benevolent landowner and was known affectionately by tenants and staff as ‘The Laird’. His lands spread from Aberdeenshire to Perthshire and included the Torloisk Estate on the Isle of Mull, which he inherited from his father.
As Clan Chief, Alwyne was always keen to meet clan members from across the world. The progenitor of the Clan Farquharson was Finlay Mor Farquharson, who was born in about 1480 and died at the battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547, when he was hit in the chest by a cannonball fired from an English ship. He was the Royal Standard Bearer.
Finlay Mor had many children, and they in turn had descendants who have spread far and wide; the clan is now scattered around the globe, with clan societies in many disparate countries including the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
Alwyne could trace his lineage back to Farquhar, 4th Son of Alexander Ciar (Shaw) Mackintosh of Rothiemurcus (1411-1492), whose descendants include the Farquharsons.
He enjoyed regaling clan members with stories of Farquharson activities and was always interested in their ties to genealogy and Scotland. In 2014, he gave permission for the rebirth of the Invercauld Highlanders, Guard of Honour for the Chiefs of Clan Farquharson.
In 2007, Alwyne leased Braemar Castle, home of the Farquharson Clan, to the Community of Braemar, which runs it as a visitor attraction. His role as Scotland’s oldest Clan Chief is recognised in the Iconic Scotland exhibition, currently running as part of the Great Tapestry of Scotland display in the Scottish Borders.
Educated at Eton College and then Magdalen College, Oxford, Alwyne’s studies in Land Economy were interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, just after his twentieth birthday. He joined the Royal Scots Greys, eventually attaining the rank of Captain, an achievement he very was proud of. He initially was posted to Egypt as mounted cavalry but the Royal Scots Greys were subsequently motorised with tanks.
He saw active service at El Alamein and fought at the Battle for Caen on June 10 1944, after which he was awarded the Military Cross for his lone actions in determining the position of the enemy, despite being seriously wounded in the foot in the process.
Alwyne was a member of Aberdeenshire County Council from 1949 until 1975, a Justice of the Peace for Aberdeenshire in 1951 and Vice-Patron of the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering.
Alwyne married firstly, in 1949 Frances Gordon (born Oldham), and after Frances’s death in 1991 he married secondly Patricia de Winton (born Simms-Adams) who has keenly supported him in his role as Chieftain of the Ballater Highland Games.
In over 70 years as Chieftain, Alwyne never failed to attend the event, marching onto the field every year including his last Games in 2019 at the grand age of 100 when the event organisers celebrated his birthday with massed pipe bands and the attendance of the Lonach Highlanders and the Balmoral Guard. Even at the age of 100, he was still able to make eloquent, unscripted speeches.
Alwyne had no issue but had a twin sister Mary and a younger brother Robert (known as Robin), both of whom had children. He had several nephews and a niece, as well as five step-children from his two marriages and was an affectionate uncle and step-father. He is succeeded as Chief of Clan Farquharson by his great-nephew, Philip Farquharson, who becomes the 17th Laird of Invercauld.
A memorial will be held at Braemar Castle in Aberdeenshire during the Clan Farquharson Gathering in the second week of August 2022 and a stone will be laid at the Clan Cairn, Carn-na-Cuimhne, in his memory.