~ Scottish Names - the Clans and
Scottish names and the Clans
Many Scottish surnames are linked to Clans. Why?...
...During the 13th century, the Gaelic word for ‘children’ - "Clanna" -was more
accurately translated as ‘family’ in the Scottish Highlands. A clan is basically a social group whose core
comprises a number of families derived from, or accepted as being derived from, a common ancestor. Almost without
exception, that core is accompanied by a further number of dependent and associated families who have either sought
the protection of the clan at some point in history or have been tenants or vassals of its chief. That chief is
owed allegiance by all members of the clan, but ancient tradition nevertheless states that ‘the Clan is above the
Although Gaelic has been supplanted by English in the Lowlands of Scotland for
nearly a thousand years, it's an acceptable convention to refer to the great Lowland families, such as the
Douglases, as Clans, (although the heads of certain families, e.g. Bruce, prefer not to use the term). The father’s
clan was generally given allegiance, but Celtic tradition includes a strong element of descent through, and loyalty
to, a mother’s line. In reality, the chief of a clan would ‘ingather’ any stranger – of whatever family – who
possessed suitable skills, maintained his allegiance and, if required, adopted the clan surname.
However, it's estimated currently that there are over 16,000 (spelling variations
included) Scottish surnames, but fewer than 3,000 of these are of Highland origin and associated with Clans. The
majority of Scots throughout history lived in the Lowlands and developed a culture which produced the bulk of
Scotland’s genius, but without the glamour that is now associated with their Highland neighbours.
But now to the Clans; this will be built up
over time, till all known Clans are listed. Again, it won't be encyclopaedic - there are better folk have done
this already - but will give a general view of the Clan, and reference to sites where you can find much more
information. It will be alphabetic. AND we will add Clans that you
request. Use the CONTACT US link in the right-hand panel to e-mail. We would love to hear from
...to The Clans & Families...