William Fergusson was the Pipe
Major for the City of Glasgow Pipe Band, which became the
legendary Clan MacRae Pipe Band. In this position he became one
of the first of the modern era’s great prize-winning pipe
majors, leading the Clan MacRae to World Championships in 1921,
1922, 1923 and 1925 and unrivalled success throughout the 1920s.
The band was a prize-winning machine.
The tune may refer to the
founder of the Macrae clan, Rev. Farquhar Macrae of /Inverinate,
born 1580 at Ellandonan, Ross, Scotland. He was a delicate
child, but grew up to be a man of good physique and great bodily
strength. His father, perceiving that he possessed good ability
and talent for learning, sent him to school at Perth, where he
remained for four or five years, and became very proficient in
Latin. Some of his exercises and discourses in that language
are mentioned as being still preserved in the year 1704.
From Perth he proceeded to the
University of Edinburgh, where he studied under James Reid, one
of the Regents or Professors of the University, and soon
surpassed all his fellow students in the study both of classics
and of philosophy. His repute for learning and scholarship was
so great at the University that he was unanimously chosen in
1603 to succeed James Reid as Regent.
But Kenneth, Lord Kintail, who
was in Edinburgh at the time, earnestly opposed the appointment,
as he was anxious to secure Mr. Farquhar's services for his own
people in the Highlands. Mr. Farquhar himself was not anxious
to accept the appointment either, as his great desire was to
become a preacher of the Gospel, and with a view to that calling
he had already studied divinity at the University. He therefore
fell in readily with Lord Kintail's proposal, and about this
time left the University to fill the post of headmaster of the
Fortrose Grammar School, which then enjoyed a great reputation
in the North, and where he remained for about fifteen months.
He appears to have passed his
"trials" or examinations for the Church while he was at Fortrose,
and having been admitted to Holy Orders he very soon acquired
celebrity as a "sound, learned, eloquent, and grave preacher."
About this time some ironworks were commenced in the parish of
Gairloch. Rev. Farquhar Macrae knew how to preach well in
English to the English-speaking ironworkers. He was accordingly
appointed Vicar of Gairloch in 1608, and continued to hold that
office until 1618. He died January 1662 in Kintail.