Clans

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Scottish Clans

Clan map of Scotland
the 'Sobieski Stuarts'

A Scottish clan is a kinship group among Scottish people. Clans give a sense of shared identity and descent to members, and in modern times have an official structure recognised by the Court of the Lord Lyon, which regulates Scottish Heraldry and coats of arms.

Most clans have their own tartan patterns, usually dating from the 19th century, which members may incorporate into kilts or other clothing. The modern image of clans- each with their own tartan and specific land- was promulgated by the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott and others, notably the 'Sobieski Stuarts'. These were two brothers, John and Charles Allan, who claimed to be descendants of Charles Edward Stuart, the 'Young Pretender'. They created a dubious book of Scottish tartans and clan dress, the Vestiarium Scotorum.<ref>http://www.tartansauthority.com/tartan/the-growth-of-tartan/vestiarium-scoticum (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref>

Historically, tartan designs were associated with Lowland and Highland districts whose weavers tended to produce cloth patterns favoured in those districts. By process of social evolution it followed that the clans/families prominent in a particular district would wear the tartan of that district, therefore it was a short step for the community to be identified with it. Many clans have their own clan chief- those that do not are known as armigerous clans.

The system of chiefly and armigerous clans was developed in the Medieval and Early Modern periods by Scotland's heraldic authority, the Lyon Court of Arms. One of its characteristics is that it applies the same heraldic rules to families in historic Highland and Lowland areas, despite their past cultural differences. Another was the practice of granting undifferenced arms to heads of aristocratic or gentry families, therefore multiplying the potential number of clan chiefs. As has been shown, the system of having 'hundreds of heads of houses' who 'formed a large and open-ended body' was more akin to the European model of nobility than the English.<ref>R.A Houston and W.W.J Knox, The New Penguin History of Scotland, From the Earliest Times to the Present Day ( Penguin, 2001) 211</ref>

Today, clans generally identify with geographical areas originally controlled by their founders, sometimes with an ancestral castle and clan gatherings which form a part of the social scene. The most notable large gathering of recent times, in which many clans took part, was 'The Gathering 2009' which included a 'Clan Convention' in the Scottish parliament as part of that year's 'homecoming' events.

While considered in many ways a success, the event led to significant financial controversy. <ref>http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/newsandmediacentre/24820.aspx</ref>

Origin Myths and Realities

Artists impression of Cuchulainn, legendary hero of the Ulster Cycle

Many clans have often claimed mythological founders which reinforced their status and gave a romantic and glorified notion of their origins. Most powerful clans gave themselves origins based on Celtic mythology. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref>For example there have been claims made that the Clan Donald were descended from either Conn, a second-century king of Ulster, or Cuchulainn, the legendary hero of the Ulster Cycle.

Their political enemies Clan Campbell have claimed Diarmaid as their progenitor who was rooted in the Finn Cycle. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref> Clan Mackinnon and Clan Gregor claimed ancestry from the Siol Alpin family who descend from Alpin, father of Kenneth MacAlpin, who united the Scottish kingdom in 843.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.14.</ref>

Only one confederation of clans which included the Clan Lamont, Clan MacLachlan and Clan MacNeill can trace their ancestry back to the fifth century Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref> However in reality the progenitors of clans can rarely be authenticated further back than the 11th century, and a continuity of lineage in most cases cannot be found until the 13th or 14th centuries.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref>

The emergence of clans had more to do with political turmoil than ethnicity. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref>The Scottish Crown’s conquest of Argyll and the Outer Hebrides from the Norsemen in the 13th century, which followed on from the pacification of the Mormaer of Moray and the northern rebellions of the 12th and 13th centuries, created the opportunity for war lords to impose their dominance over local families who accepted their protection. These warrior chiefs can largely be categorized as Celtic, however their origins range from Gaelic to Norse-Gaelic and British. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref>

By the 14th century there had been further influx of kindreds whose ethnicity ranged from Norman or Anglo-Norman and Flemish, such as Clan Cameron, Clan Fraser ,Clan Menzies, Clan Chisholm and Clan Grant. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref>

During the Wars of Scottish Independence feudal tenures were introduced by Robert the Bruce which harnessed and controlled the prowess of clans by the award of charters for land in order to gain support in the national cause against the English. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref> For example the Clan MacDonald were elevated above the Clan MacDougall, two clans who shared a common descent from a great Norse-Gaelic warlord named Somerled of the 12th century.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref>

Clanship was thus not only a strong tie of local kinship but also of Feudalism to the Scottish Crown. It is this feudal component, reinforced by Scots law that separates Scottish clanship from tribalism that is found in aboriginal groups in Australasia, Africa and the Americas.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 13 - 14.</ref>

Clan organisation

Members of Clan Douglas at the 2009 Clan Gathering in Edinburgh

The word clan is derived from the Gaelic word 'clanna'- meaning 'children'. <ref>Plean, Squire, 31</ref> The expansion of the power base of a single family group was inevitable as successful leaders extended their territories and thereby their ability to support larger groups of people, all acknowledging their authority. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 21</ref> This arrangement was known in the Celtic world as the 'fine' system, a concept referring to a wide notion of kinship. However the need for proved descent from a common ancestor related to the chiefly house is too restrictive. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 28</ref>

As they expanded their territory, clans would have comprised 'native' men who came to accept the authority of the dominant group. Chiefs would accept allegiance from smaller communities and families by adoption as well as branches of the family not linked territoriality to clan lands. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 28</ref> The gradual process of absorption of other families into the main clan is to some degree responsible for the system of septs or sub-names. A clansman can be said to be one who professes allegiance to a chief and the other members of his noble community, whether by descent with a common name, territorial origin or adoption. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 28</ref>

Recognition of Chiefs

According to the former Lord Lyon, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, a clan is a community which is distinguished by heraldry and recognised by the Sovereign. Learney considered clans to be a "noble incorporation" because the arms borne by a clan chief are granted or otherwise recognised by the Lord Lyon as an officer of the Crown, thus conferring royal recognition of the entire clan.

Clans with recognised chiefs are therefore considered a noble community under Scots law. A group without a chief recognised by the Sovereign, through the Lord Lyon, has no official standing under Scottish law. Claimants to the title of chief are expected to be recognised by the Lord Lyon as the rightful heir to the undifferenced arms of the ancestor of the clan of which the claimant seeks to be recognized as chief.

A chief of a clan is the only person who is entitled to bear the undifferenced arms of the ancestral founder of the clan. The clan is considered to be the chief's heritable estate and the chief's Seal of Arms is the seal of the clan as a "noble corporation." Under Scots law the chief is recognised as the head of the clan and serves as the lawful representative of the clan community.<ref> Agnew of Lochnaw, Crispin. "Clans, Families and Septs". www.electricscotland.com. </ref> <ref> "What is a clan?". Court of the Lord Lyon. Archived from the original on 17 January 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2008.</ref>

Septs

Historically, a large clan like the Campbells or the MacKenzies might have many septs or cadet branches.<ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, The Birlinn Companion to Scottish History, (Birlinn, 2009) 35</ref>

Today clans may have lists of septs. Septs are surnames, families or clans which historically, currently or for whatever reason the chief chooses, are associated with that clan. There is no official list of clan septs, and the decision of what septs a clan has is left up to the clan itself. <ref>Who is a member of a clan?". Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 26 February 2008.</ref> Historically, a clan was made up of everyone who lived on the chief's territory, or on territory of those who owed allegiance to the said chief. Through time, with the constant changes of clan boundaries, migration or regime changes, clans would be made up of large numbers of members who were unrelated and who bore different surnames. Often those living on a chief's lands would over time adopt the clan surname.

A chief could add to his clan by adopting other families, and also had the legal right to outlaw anyone from his clan, including members of his own family. Today, anyone who has the chief's surname is automatically considered to be a member of the chief's clan. Also, anyone who offers allegiance to a chief becomes a member of the chief's clan, unless the chief decides not to accept that person's allegiance.<ref>Who is a member of a clan?". Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 26 February 2008.</ref>

Clan membership goes through the surname, except when a married woman takes that of her husband's surname, and then on to her children.<ref> Court of the Lord Lyon. "Information Leaflet No.2". www.electricscotland.com</ref> Children who take their father's surname are part of their father's clan and not their mother's.

However, there have been several cases where a descendant through the maternal line has changed their surname in order to claim the chiefship of a clan, such as the late chief of the Clan MacLeod who was born John Wolridge-Gordon and changed his name to the maiden name of his maternal grandmother in order to claim the chiefship of the MacLeods. <ref>"John MacLeod Of MacLeod". The Independent (London). 17 March 2007.</ref>

Several clan societies have been granted coats of arms. In such cases, these arms are differenced from the chief's, much like a clan armiger. The former Lord Lyon King of Arms, Thomas Innes of Learney stated that such societies, according to the Law of Arms, are considered an '"indeterminate cadet'" <ref>Innes of Learney (1971): pp. 55-57.</ref>

Clanship and Authority

Members of Clan Gregor in 2007

Scottish clanship contained two complementary but distinct concepts of heritage. These were firstly the collective heritage of the clan, known as their duthchas which was their prescriptive right to settle in the territories in which the chiefs and leading gentry of the clan customarily provided protection. <ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_clan#W2</ref>

This concept was where all clansmen recognised the personal authority of the chiefs and leading gentry as trustees for their clan. The second concept was the wider acceptance of the granting of charters by the Crown and other powerful land owners to the chiefs, chieftains and lairds which defined the estate settled by their clan. This was known as their oighreachd and gave a different emphasis to the clan chief’s authority in that it gave the authority to the chiefs and leading gentry as landed proprietors, who owned the land in their own right, rather than just as trustees for the clan.

From the beginning of Scottish clanship the clan warrior elite- who were known as the ‘fine’- strove to be landowners as well as territorial war lords.<ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_clan#W2</ref>

Clans and Legal History

The concept of duthchas mentioned above held precedence in the Middle Ages, however by the early modern period the concept of oigreachd was favored. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.14</ref> This shift reflected the importance of Scots law in shaping the structure of clanship in that the fine were awarded charters and the continuity of heritable succession was secured.The heir to the chief was known as the tainistear and was usually the direct male heir. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.14</ref> However in some cases the direct heir was set aside for a more politically accomplished or belligerent relative.

There were not many disputes over succession after the 16th century and by the 17th century the setting aside of the male heir was a rarity.This was governed and restricted by the law of Entail which prevented estates from being divided up amongst female heirs and therefore also prevented the loss of clan territories.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.14</ref>The main legal process used within the clans to settle criminal and civil disputes was known as arbitration, in which the offending and aggrieved sides put their cases to a panel which was drawn from the leading gentry and was overseen by the clan chief. There was no appeal against the decision made by the panel which was usually recorded in the local Royal or Burgh court.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.14</ref>

Fosterage and Manrent were the most important forms of social bonding in the clans.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.15.</ref> In the case of fosterage the chief’s children would be brought up by a favored member of the leading clan gentry and in turn their children would be favored by members of the clan.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.15.</ref>In the case of manrent this was a bond contracted by the heads of families looking to the chief for territorial protection, though not living on the estates of the clan elite.

These bonds were reinforced by calps, death duties paid to the chief as a mark of personal allegiance by the family when their head died, usually in the form of their best cow or horse. Although calps were banned by Parliament in 1617, manrent continued covertly to pay for protection.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.15.</ref> The marriage alliance reinforced links with neighboring clans as well as with families within the territory of the clan. The marriage alliance was also a commercial contract involving the exchange of livestock, money and land through payments in which the bride was known as the tocher and the groom was known as the dowry. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p.15.</ref>

Clan disputes and disorder

Artist's impression of a battle between two clans at Perth

Where the oighreachd (land owned by the clan elite or fine), did not match the common heritage of the dùthchas (the collective territory of the clan) this led to territorial disputes and warfare. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 16</ref>The fine resented their clansmen paying rent to other landlords. Some clans used disputes to expand their territories. Most notably the Clan Campbell and the Clan MacKenzie were prepared to play off territorial disputes within and among clans to expand their own land and influence. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 16</ref>

Feuding on the western seaboard was conducted with such intensity that the Clan MacLeod and the Clan MacDonald on the Isle of Skye were reputedly reduced to eating dogs and cats in the 1590s.<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 16</ref> Feuding was further compounded by the involvement of Scottish clans in the wars between the Irish Gaels and the English Tudor monarchy in the 16th century.

Within these clans evolved a military caste of members of the lesser gentry who were purely warriors and not managers, and who migrated seasonally to Ireland to fight as mercenaries. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 16 - 17.</ref> There was heavy feuding between the clans during the civil wars of the 1640s- however by this time the chiefs and leading gentry preferred increasingly to settle local disputes by recourse to the law. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 17.</ref> After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the incidents of feuding between clans declined considerably.The last “clan” feud that led to a battle and that was not part of a civil war was the Battle of Mulroy that took place on 4 August 1688. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 17.</ref>

Cattle raiding, known as "reiving" had been normal practice prior to the 17th century. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 17</ref> It was also known as creach where young men took livestock from neighbouring clans. By the 17th century this had declined and most reiving was known as the sprèidh where smaller numbers of men raided the adjoining Lowlands and the livestock taken usually being recoverable on payment of tascal (information money) and guarantee of no prosecution. Some clans such as the Clan MacFarlane and the Clan Farquharson offered the Lowlanders protection against such raids, on terms not dissimilar to blackmail. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994): p. 17</ref>

The Highland clans had traditionally been unruly, leading to successive attempts by the Scottish Crown to impose lowland style law and order.<ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, The Birlinn Companion to Scottish History (Birlinn, 2009) 56</ref> James IV made successive expeditions to the Highlands and forfeited the Lordship of the Isles in 1493.<ref>Hunt, Donnachie, Companion, 56</ref>The MacDonald Lords of the Isles had previously plotted against James with the English king Edward IV. In 1540, James V travelled to the Highlands and, promising safe conduct, arrested and imprisoned a number of Highland chiefs including that of Clan MacNeil. MacNeil was eventually released following James' death in 1542.<ref>George Way of Plean and Rommilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 254</ref>

James IV made serious attempts to tackle the clans and met with some success.<ref>Hunt, Donnachie, Companion, 56</ref>He imported lowland colonists to Kintyre and Lewis similar to those of the Ulster Plantation<ref>Hunt, Donnachie, Companion, 56</ref>, as well as imposing the statutes of Iona in 1609.<ref>Hunt, Donnachie, Companion, 56</ref> These placed limitations on bards and strong alcohol, as well as attempting to ban firearms and large retinues.<ref>Hunt, Donnachie, Companion, 56</ref> Later the chiefs were ordered to have their sons educated in the Lowlands on the expectation that this would produce more civilized behaviour.<ref>Hunt, Donnachie, Companion, 56</ref>

Lowland Clans

An Act of the Scottish Parliament of 1597 talks of the 'Chiftanis and chieffis of all clannis...duelland in the hielands or bordouris'- thus using the word clan and chief to describe both Highland and Border families. <ref>Agnew, Sir Crispin of Lochnaw Bt. (2001) Clans, Families and Septs electricscotland.com.</ref> The act goes on to list the various Lowland clans including the Maxwell, Johnstones, Turnbulls and other famous Border Reiver names. <ref>Agnew, Sir Crispin of Lochnaw Bt. (2001) Clans, Families and Septs electricscotland.com.</ref>

Further, Sir George MacKenzie of Rosehaugh, the Lord Advocate (Attorney General) writing in 1680, said: "By the term 'chief' we call the representative of the family from the word chef or head and in the Irish (Gaelic) with us the chief of the family is called the head of the clan". <ref>Agnew, Sir Crispin of Lochnaw Bt. (2001) Clans, Families and Septs electricscotland.com.</ref> So it can be seen that, all along, the words "chief" or "head", and "clan" or "family", are interchangeable. It is therefore quite correct to talk of the MacDonald family or the Stirling clan. <ref>Agnew, Sir Crispin of Lochnaw Bt. (2001) Clans, Families and Septs electricscotland.com.</ref> The idea that Highlanders should be listed as clans while the Lowlanders should be termed as families was merely a 19th-century convention. <ref>Agnew, Sir Crispin of Lochnaw Bt. (2001) Clans, Families and Septs electricscotland.com.</ref>The Lowland Clan MacDuff are described specifically as a "clan" in legislation of the Scottish Parliament in 1384. <ref>Grant, Alexander & Stringer, Keith J. (1998). Medieval Scotland: Crown, Lordship and Community. pp. 21 - 22. ISBN 0-74-860111-0</ref>

Collapse of the Clan System

The system of clanship was destroyed after the Jacobite rising of 1745. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire (1994) 20</ref> Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, son of George II of Great Britain carried out policies which today would be regarded as ethnic cleansing.<ref>Way of Plean, Squire (1994) 20</ref>Cumberland authorized the wanton butchery by government troops and the whole-scale transportation of clans who had supported the Jacobite cause. <ref>Way of Plean, Squire (1994) 20</ref>

Another contributor to the demise of clanship began after the restoration era of 1660 when some of the clan chiefs formed Independent Highland Companies in support of the government which were an early form of the British Highland regiments and in doing so the chiefs placed a greater emphasis on their right as landowners (oighreachd) rather than their role of trustee for the clan (duthchas).<ref>Way of Plean, Squire (1994) 20</ref>

After the 1745 rising the governmen banned the wearing of Highland dress and tartan which was used as a sense of clan identity as part of their campaign to quash any further threat of a Jacobite insurrection. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994) 36</ref> Only the Highland regiments of the army could legally wear it and it was not until 1782 that James Graham, 3rd Duke of Montrose, spokesman of the Highland Society of London succeeded in having the ban overturned. <ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994) 36</ref>

For nearly two decades before the 1745 rising many clansmen had been leaving the Highlands to go and live in the Americas.<ref>Way of Plean, Squire (1994) 20</ref> They were either led from Argyll, the central Highlands or Sutherland by clan gentry who were trying to establish settlements in Jamaica, Georgia, New York and The Carolinas or they were victims of land raids in the Hebrides, to be used as cheap labour in colonial plantations.<ref>Way of Plean, Squire (1994) 20</ref>This paved the way for what became known as the Highland Clearances (mass forced emigration to the sea coast, the Scottish Lowlands and the North American colonies that continued throughout the 19th century).<ref>Way of Plean, Squire (1994) 20</ref>

Romanticism

John 'Sobieski Stuart'

Most of the anti-clan legislation was repealed by the end of the eighteenth century as the Jacobite threat subsided, with the Dress Act restricting kilt wearing being repealed in 1782. There was soon a process of the rehabilitation of highland culture. By the nineteenth century tartan had largely been abandoned by the ordinary people of the region, although preserved in the Highland regiments in the British army, which poor highlanders joined in large numbers until the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. <ref> Marco Sievers, The Highland Myth as an Invented Tradition of 18th and 19th Century and Its Significance for the Image of Scotland. (Edinburgh, 2007) 22-5 </ref>

The international craze for tartan, and for idealising a romanticised Highlands, was set off by the Ossian Cycle published by James Macpherson (1736–96).<ref>Way of Plean; Squire (1994) 36</ref> Macpherson claimed to have found poetry written by the ancient bard Ossian, and published translations that acquired international popularity. <ref>Buchan, James (2003). Crowded with Genius, 163</ref> Highland aristocrats set up Highland Societies in Edinburgh (1784) and other centres including London (1788). <ref>C. G. Calloway, White People, Indians, and Highlanders: Tribal People and Colonial Encounters in Scotland and America: Tribal People and Colonial Encounters in Scotland and America. (2008) 242</ref>

The image of the romantic highlands was further popularised by the works of Walter Scott. His "staging" of the royal Visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822 and the king's wearing of tartan, resulted in a massive upsurge in demand for kilts and tartans that could not be met by the Scottish linen industry. The designation of individual clan tartans was largely defined in this period and they became a major symbol of Scottish identity. <ref>N.C Milne, (2010) Scottish Culture and Traditions.(Paragon 2010) 138</ref> This "Highlandism", by which all of Scotland was identified with the culture of the Highlands was cemented by Queen Victoria's interest in the country, her adoption of Balmoral as a major royal retreat from and her interest in "tartenry".<ref>Sievers (2007), 22-5</ref>

Clan Symbols

The revival of interest, and demand for clan ancestry, has led to the production of lists and maps covering the whole of Scotland giving clan names and showing territories, sometimes with the appropriate tartans. While some lists and clan maps confine their area to the Highlands, others also show Lowland clans or families. Territorial areas and allegiances changed over time, and there are also differing decisions on which (smaller) clans and families should be omitted.

This list of Clans shows clans registered with the Lord Lyon Court. They defines a clan or family as a legally recognised group, but does not differentiate between Families and Clans as it recognises both terms as being interchangeable. Clans or families thought to have had a Chief in the past but not currently recognised by the Lord Lyon are listed as armigerous clans

Tartan

Royal Stewart tartan

Ever since the Victorian "tartan craze", tartans and "clan tartans" have been an important part of a Scottish clans. Almost all Scottish clans have more than one tartan attributed to their surname. Although there are no rules on who can or cannot wear a particular tartan, and it is possible for anyone to create a tartan and name it almost any name they wish, the only person with the authority to make a clan's tartan "official" is the chief. <ref>http://web.archive.org/web/20080114024535/http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/243.html (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref>

In some cases, following such recognition from the clan chief, the clan tartan is recorded and registered by the Lord Lyon. Once approved by the Lord Lyon, after recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Tartan, the clan tartan is then recorded in the Lyon Court Books. <ref>Campbell of Airds, Alastair; Alastair Campbell Campbell of Airds A History of Clan Campbell: Volume 2: From Flodden to the Restoration. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, (2002)</ref> In at least one instance a clan tartan appears in the heraldry of a clan chief and the Lord Lyon considers it to be the "proper" tartan of the clan.

Originally there appears to have been no association of tartans with specific clans; instead, highland tartans were produced to various designs by local weavers and any identification was purely regional, but the idea of a clan-specific tartan gained currency in the late 18th century and in 1815 the Highland Society of London began the naming of clan-specific tartans. Many clan tartans derive from a 19th-century hoax known as the Vestiarium Scoticum.

The Vestiarium was composed by the "Sobieski Stuarts" who passed it off as a reproduction of an ancient manuscript of clan tartans. It has since been proven a forgery, but despite this, the designs are still highly regarded and they continue to serve their purpose to identify the clan in question.

Crest Badge

Crest Badge suitable to be worn by members of Clan Dewar

A sign of allegiance to a certain clan chief is the wearing of a crest badge. The crest badge suitable for a clansman or clanswoman consists of the chief's heraldic crest encircled with a strap and buckle and which contains the chief's heraldic motto or slogan. Although it is common to speak of "clan crests" there is no such thing.<ref>Campbell of Airds (2000) 259-261</ref>

In Scotland (and indeed all of UK) only individuals, not clans, possess a heraldic coat of arms. <ref>http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/216.181.html (accessed 12th June 2014)</ref> Even though any clansmen and clanswomen may purchase crest badges and wear them to show their allegiance to his or her clan, the heraldic crest and motto always belongs to the chief alone.

In principle, these badges should only be used with the permission of the clan chief; and the Lyon Court has intervened in cases where permission has been withheld.<ref>Adam, Innes of Learney (1970)</ref> Scottish crest badges, much like clan-specific tartans, do not have a long history, and owe much to Victorian era romanticism, having only been worn on the bonnet since the 19th century. The concept of a clan badge or form of identification may have some validity, as it is commonly stated that the original markers were merely specific plants worn in bonnets or hung from a pole or spear.

Clan Badges

Juniper is attributed as the clan badge of the Gunns, Macleods, Murrays, Nicolsons (of Skye), and Rosses.

Clan badges are another means of showing one's allegiance to a Scottish clan. These badges, sometimes called plant badges, consist of a sprig of a particular plant. They are usually worn in a bonnet behind the Scottish crest badge; they can also be attached at the shoulder of a lady's tartan sash, or be tied to a pole and used as a standard.

Clans which are connected historically, or that occupied lands in the same general area, may share the same clan badge. According to popular lore, clan badges were used by Scottish clans as a form of identification in battle. However, the badges attributed to clans today can be completely unsuitable for even modern clan gatherings. Clan badges are commonly referred to as the original clan symbol; however, Thomas Innes of Learney claimed the heraldic flags of clan chiefs would have been the earliest means of identifying Scottish clans in battle or at large gatherings. <ref>Adam; Innes of Learney (1970) 541-543</ref>

Amigerous Clans

An armigerous clan is a Scottish clan, family or name which is registered with the Court of the Lord Lyon and once had a chief but does not have a chief currently recognized as such by Court of the Lord Lyon. They are clans where the chiefdom is vacant or disputed.

Arms of Clan Abercromby, an armigerous clan

The term 'armigerous' is a heraldic term which means that a person or people are entitled to bear heraldic arms <ref>http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/armigerous?showCookiePolicy=true</ref> Armigerous families therefore have officially recognised heraldry.

Many armigerous clans are dormant. This means that they are not currently united by a family association or any leadership which promotes a common identity and heritage associated with the name. Others are most likely extinct in that no modern family bears the name.

The process of achieving recognition of a clan chief is long and complex. <ref>http://www.clans-families.org/about-council.html</ref> Despite this in modern times a number of armigerous clans have produced claimants who have successfully petitioned to be recognised as chiefs. These include the Cumming and Davidson families, chiefs of which were recognised in 1997 and were admitted to the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs and the Strange and Trotter families who were admitted in 1995 and 1996 respectively. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 344</ref>

In 2007 Richard Barclay Allardice of Allardice was recognised by the Lord Lyon as chief of Clan Allardice

In December 2013 Sir John Cunningham was recognised by the Lyon King of Arms as chief of Clan Cunningham and Lord Kilmaurs. <ref>http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/CCC_FirstPage.jsp</ref> There had not been a chief since the eighteenth century.

A new body, the Council for Scottish Armigerous Clans and Families, was constituted in 2010. <ref>http://www.clans-families.org/about-council.html</ref> The Council has two primary aims. These are to provide representation to the many 'chiefless' Scottish Armigerous clans and ancient families which are not currently represented by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, <ref>http://www.clans-families.org/about-council.html</ref> and to aid 'chiefless' clans and families to obtain official recognition as Clans, through the election or appointment of a hereditary Chief, by the Lord Lyon.<ref>http://www.clans-families.org/about-council.html</ref>

See also


References

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Clans of Scotland

Amigerious Clans

Abercromby Abernethy Adair Adam Aikenhead Ainslie Aiton Anderson Armstrong Arnott Auchinleck Ballie Baird Balfour Bannatyne Baxter Bell Belshes Bethune Beveridge Binning Bisset Blackadder Blackstock Blair Blane Blythe Boswell Brisbane Buchannan Butter Byres Cairns Calder Caldwell Callender Carruthers Chalmers Cheyne Clelland Clephane Cockburn Congilton Craig Crawford Crosbie Dalmahoy Dalrymple Daziel Dennistoun Don Douglas Duncan Dunlop Edmonstone Fairlie Falconer Fenton Fleming Fletcher Forrester Fotheringham Fullarton Galbraith Galloway Garden Gartshore Gayre Ged Gibsone Gladstains Glas Glen Glendinning Gray Gunn Haliburton Halkerstone Halket Hepburn Heron Herries Hog Hopkirk Horsburgh Houston Hutton Inglis Kelly Kinloch Kinnaird Kinnear Kinnimont Kirkcaldy Kirkpatrick Laing Lammie [[Langlands Learmonth Little Livingstone Logie Lundin Lyle Macaulay MacBrayne MacDuff Macewen MacFarlane MacFie MacGillivray MacInne Mackie MacClellan MacQuarrie MacQueen Macrae Masterton Maule Maxton Maxwell McCorquodale McCulloch McIver McKerrell Meldrum Melville Mercer Middleton Moncur Monteith Monypenny Mouat Moubray Mow Muir Nairn Nevoy Newlands Newton Norvel Ochterlony Oliphant Orrock Paisley Paterson Pennycook Pentland Pitblado Pitcairn Pollock Polwarth Porterfield Preston Pringle Purves Rait Ralston Renton Roberton Rossie Russel Rutherford Schaw Seton Skirving Somerville Spalding Spottiswood Stewart Strachan Straiton Sydserf Symmers Tailyour Tait Tennant Troup Turnbull Tweedie Udny Vans Walkinshaw Wardlaw Watson Wauchope Weir Whitefoord Whitelaw Wishart Wood Young