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William MacFarlane was born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire in 15th March 1880, one of 4 children of Christina MacFarlane and Robert MacFarlane, a calico printer and colour manufacturer. MacFarlane attended The Glasgow School of Art from 1911 to 1916 as a part-time student of drawing and painting. During the First World War, MacFarlane served in the Motor Machine Gun Corps regiment. After the war, he worked as a carpet designer. MacFarlane is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour.
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Sources: the Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture by Peter J M McEwan; the Dictionary of Scottish Architects: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk; Scotland's People: http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.