G M Macfarlane Grieve

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Gavin Malcolm Macfarlane Grieve was a pupil and teacher at the Perse school and lived for most of his life at Toft Manor, sometimes described as the squire.  Generally known as Mac, or Uncle Mac (largely within the Perse) he was central to Perse Scouting (5th Cambridge) for many years and was ASM from 1912 and SM from 1918 on his return from serving in the Black Watch during the Great War.

He studied at Durham University and later at Magdalene.  His status as Fellow Commoner of Magdalene made him a member of the High Table, a privilege he enjoyed until his death.  He regularly attended chapel on Sunday nights and was described as a slight, quiet presence, with an unostentatious lifestyle.  His family fortune had been based on naval prize money in the Napoleonic Wars.

His home at Toft was frequently used for camps, most often by the 5th Cambridge (Perse) but he also hosted the first camp of the 25th in 1938. Perse Scouts were involved in starting the 25th in 1937/38. This event was recalled by a member of the 25th in 2020. History teacher at the school he also purchased West Runcton in Norfolk as a campsite for the 5th.  Another site in the adjacent village East Runton, was used by other troops.

  • On his retirement over 100 Old Perseans and Senior Scouts attended his presentation.
  • GSL                              1963 – 1973
  • He was one of the six original trustees of Abington Campsite.  
  • He held the roles of ADC Cubs and ACC Cubs from 1924.
At the opening of Abington 1932

Medal Merit  1925

Refused Silver Acorn in 1951.  It is not known why he did not feel that he deserved this honour.

Died 12th April 1974

‘Mac’ is a very frequent reference in the archives for many years; he was clearly a central presence.  He was known by his nickname across the District and further afield.  This obituary has, however, not been readily filled but pieced together from many sources.  He reads as an able and trusted man, much appreciated by those whom he met as a Scoutmaster and administrator but not leaving individual headline acts. He is clearly active and able leader as evidenced by the following from ‘The Perse Scouts the first 50 years’.

5th Cambridge    ‘On the first morning we decided to climb along a mountain ridge.  As we ascended the first mountain it gradually became colder and misty, until we could only see a few hundred yards.  By the time we were half way up, we had lost direction and path, and only the timely production of a compass by Mr Macfarlane Grieve saved us.  Thus we proceeded along the ridge, frozen and nearly blind, until eventually we reached camp, wet to the skin.

As a fellow commoner of Magdalene College he donated a collection of books on Genealogy, literature and music to the library and a stained glass window to the College Chapel.  The Perse received £50,000 and the sports pavilion was funded in his honour.  His brother Alwyn, also a teacher at the Perse was killed in 1917.

Two appreciations from the Cambridge Scout Gazette

Note: M H MacFarlane was a teacher and Scouter at the Perse who overlapped with MacFarlane-Grieve.

From Perse School archive – undated

JWR Archivist June 2019