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Guest HEthePrimate

Scottish Clans

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Guest HEthePrimate

Hi everybody,

I'm kind of interested in "things Scottish" and saw in my genealogy that I have quite a few Scottish ancestors. Do any of you know what it takes to officially join a Scottish clan? Does one have to have a Scottish name (mine is English)? Do you have to have an unbroken line of descent (The last of my properly "Scottish" Scottish ancestors was probably a few generations back--they intermarried with the English. Does that disqualify me?). If you have lots of Scottish ancestors, how do you know which clan to apply to?

Thanks for any help!

DH

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Hi everybody,

I'm kind of interested in "things Scottish" and saw in my genealogy that I have quite a few Scottish ancestors. Do any of you know what it takes to officially join a Scottish clan? Does one have to have a Scottish name (mine is English)? Do you have to have an unbroken line of descent (The last of my properly "Scottish" Scottish ancestors was probably a few generations back--they intermarried with the English. Does that disqualify me?). If you have lots of Scottish ancestors, how do you know which clan to apply to?

Thanks for any help!

DH

Welcome to the board Daniel

Here is a place to start your search.

http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/lord_lyon.htm

You can also do a simple Google using "scottish clan register". That is how I found this. It is one of a number of pamphlets provided by the official clan registry in Scotland.

Larry P

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I am not sure what you mean by officially joining a Scottish clan. Swearing fealty to the clan chief? Probably would not do for a modern American. :) Seriously, Scottish clans are not legally constituted entities, so there is no legal definition of just what a clan is.

If you have Scottish ancestors you are already a member of one or more clans. The term is used pretty loosely. Many clans were made up of people who were not even related, but who simply adopted the same last name to show medieval fealty. During some periods of history the clan was as much a political party as it was a family structure.

If you go to Scottish shops and things you will find that they cater to a certain type of person who really likes to play dress-up. I can go into one of these places and see dozens of different Campbell clan tartans, for example, along with all kinds of heraldic symbols, shields, 'official' flowers, etc. There will be a 'hunting' tartan, for example, or tartans for obscure branches of the family. Most of it is hogwash. The official Campbell tartan is that worn by the current 13th Duke of Argyll. Here is the policy as stated by his father, the 12th Duke, and since reaffirmed by the current Duke:

...the only tartans which I recognize are, firstly, the one you see me and my wife wearing, which goes under various names, such as ordinary Campbell, Ancient Campbell, etc., and all members of our clan who are not specifically identified with [the Houses of Breadalbane, Cawdor [or] Loudoun are entitled to wear it.

Let me get rid, once and for all, of the thought that there is a 'Campbell of Argyll' [tartan]. While it is true that the Sixth Duke [of Argyll] introduced a white line to his plain Campbell tartan to differentiate himself from the rest of the Campbells, (he being the chief and entitled to do so), he was the only member of the family so to do and the rest of the family thought he was rather pompous to do it.

Campbell of Breadalbane--fine [to wear].

Campbell of Cawdor--fine.

Campbell of Loudoun--fine.

Campbell of Glenlyon--I have never heard of it.

Campbell of Loch Awe-this is plain ridiculous, as we are all Campbells of Loch Awe originally. - Apart from anything else, I have never heard of a Campbell of Loch Awe tartan, nor do I wish to do so.

THERE IS NO DRESS CAMPBELL [TARTAN]--repeat! repeat! repeat!

There is NO HUNTING CAMPBELL.

There is NO CAMPBELL RED.

There is NO CAMPBELL - SIMPSON.

There are no Campbell cheques, other than commercial ones...

If I feel strongly about anything and would like it inscribed on my tombstone, there might be a few lines such as 'All Campbells with the exception of the three principal septs [the Houses of Breadalbane, Cawdor and Loudoun] should wear plain undifferentiated Campbell for evermore and not get confused by peddlers of this [other] material that comes under all sorts of guises.

Yours ever,

Your Kinsman and Chief,

Argyll

As you can see, the real clan chiefs have little tolerance for some of the silliness being marketed as 'authentic' Scottish.

There are any number of clan registries, of course, but these ignore one simple fact: It is the clan chief who decides who is a member and who is not. A genuine member of a Scottish clan swears fealty to the clan chief. In general, most chiefs accept anyone with the same surname or anyone who shows allegiance to the chief by wearing his tartan. The chief reserves the right to kick you out of the clan, of course. Although there is nothing specific about joining a clan on your mother's side, it is generally accepted that if you wear the tartan of that clan you are a member of it.

So, choose your clan and wear your tartan proudly. There are no registration requirements at all. And behave yourself so that the chief does not have to personally kick you out of his clan. :)

While clans are not legally constituted entities (even in Scotland) there are clan societies which are legally constituted entities. You can be a member of a clan without belonging to a clan society. The titular head of clan societies is the clan chief, but he rarely interferes with the running of the society. Clan societies may publish a newsletter or even a magazine, encourage historical research, help clan members understand their cultural heritage, and plan various events and get-togethers. The Campbell Clan Society of North America is headquartered in Arizona, for example, and there are Campbell Clan Societies in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and other countries. Belonging to a clan society usually entails a membership fee (to pay for the magazine, if nothing else). You can pretty much guarantee that members of the Campbell Clan Society will wear only the tartans approved by the Duke of Argyll.

The current Duke of Argyll, by the way, is the youngest living Duke in British peerage. He is only 39, having become Duke at the age of 33 when the 12th Duke died unexpectedly during an operation. He is married to Eleanor Cadbury, a descendent of the Cadbury chocolate dynasty. Good choice, eh? :) They are a very pretty couple and well liked.

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Guest HEthePrimate

Thanks for your replies, they are helpful. So, it's legit to simply look through my genealogy, pick a Scottish family, and consider myself part of their clan? Also, what if I'm a descendant of Malcolm III (Canmore), King of Scotland. Could I join Clan MacCallum, or would it be another clan that claims descent from him, or what? It's all a little confusing to me.

Thanks again.

DH

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Thanks for your replies, they are helpful. So, it's legit to simply look through my genealogy, pick a Scottish family, and consider myself part of their clan? Also, what if I'm a descendant of Malcolm III (Canmore), King of Scotland. Could I join Clan MacCallum, or would it be another clan that claims descent from him, or what? It's all a little confusing to me.

Thanks again.

DH

Any or all of the above. Most clan societies accept as members people who are simply interested in the clan. Since the clan is not a legal entity, anyone can declare themselves to be a member of that clan.

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fFrom what I understand it is Scotland, scot not scottish but gaelic not all that sort I was told by someone who is big on the Scotland stuff. So I would be from the (McAllister) gaelic group or clan but have been told that there was a different spelling to it when they arrived to this continent.

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My mom has a distant cousin in Scotland who has a passion for Geneaology. He's not a member of the church though. They exchange info all the time and play e-mail scrabble. :D I'll ask her about anything cool she has learned.

Sorry for the Scotish accent I used throughout this post. Could you tell I was doing it? I was. I love doing accents. Now I'm doing my Irish accent.

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From what I remember my mom saying, there are a few "Head Clans" with little "sub-clans" in side of those clans. My family is from the Johnston Clan, but it's part of a larger clan. I can't remember which one though, but it's a big one.

Sorry I couldn't help more.

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From what I remember my mom saying, there are a few "Head Clans" with little "sub-clans" in side of those clans. My family is from the Johnston Clan, but it's part of a larger clan. I can't remember which one though, but it's a big one.

Sorry I couldn't help more.

My late husband was a Taylor which is a sept of the Clan Cameron. They insist that you should say "Clan Cameron" and not "Cameron Clan". I think the sept is what you were thinking of. My Uncle was a Turner which is a sept of the Clan Lamont. (they pronounce it LAMont not LaMONT)

As a Taylor by previous marriage I have things of the Taylor Tartan (which is a variation of the Cameron but with additional black lines). I think this is an acceptable variation unlike the Campbell ones mentioned previously because this is distinctly Taylor as opposed to generally Cameron. My Uncle on the other hand had the Lamont tartan as there is nothing specifically Turner. Gaelic is the native language of Scotland but most people there cannot speak it. There are some of the outer islands where it is spoken. Some clans have Gaelic mottos. Ours is 'aonibh ri cheile' but I have yet to find someone in Scotland who even knows how to pronounce it let alone what it means! Since my daughters are Taylors by birth they still retain an interest in the Clan Cameron.

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Yes, a "sub-clan" is called a sept (Latin for "branch"). For example, my main line of Scottish ancestry is through my maternal grandmother, Margaret Grey. Grey/Gray is a sept of Clan Stewart. To make things confusing, though, sometimes a name can be associated with multiple clans, e.g. Grey/Gray can also be a sept of Clan Sutherland; so you have to delve deep to find out which Clan your particular branch of the family is descended from.

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I'm always surprised/baffled/ unsure of how Americans who trace their Scottish lines back always, always end up descended from kings or lairds, but the ordinary members I work with here are all descended from crofters and Irish immigrants :)

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