Saturday, November 3, 2012

Scottish Clans and Septs

The following was written by Alastair McIntyre on his blog at -Newsletter-2nd-November-2012. I totally agree with him!!

"I mentioned last week that I was going to do more research into the Septs question and I did get several emails in about this. As a result I have reworked my page on the Septs to reflect the new information I have received which you can see at: but here is my account...

I find that many lists that are provided by individual clans and clan societies are questionable.

Where a name is listed as a Sept rarely is there any information as to why that name is listed as a Sept. Often the Clan Chief does not know this information either having simply accepted the list when inheriting the chiefdom. Where there might be a connection due to the people of the name living in clan lands, in most situations like this, there are many people of that same name that never lived on these clan lands. This means that listing a surname as a Sept of a clan can be very misleading.

I personally feel that the Clan or Clan Society has the responsibility to make clear why a name has been listed as a Sept of their Clan. Where they are unable to do so then they should list the name as "no historical information" so that we know there is no information as to why that name was listed as a Sept. To my knowledge not one Clan or Clan Society has done that or made any effort to be transparent about their Sept list and instead just provide a list of names.

I would also make clear that just because your name is listed as a Sept under a Clan name doesn't mean that you are related by blood to that clan. And as mentioned above your ancestors may not have had any association with the clan as they never lived on the clan lands or had anything to do with them.

I thus think the time has come when we must hold all clans to account to provide a meaningful Sept list. Instead of simply listing the names they must list them in such a way that they tell people why that name is a Sept and where they don't have the information they should make it clear that no information is available. They can thus list Septs in such a way...

Name - Reason why this name is a Sept.
Name - Inherited list but no evidence of why the name is a Sept.
Name - No historical information available.

Let us also remember that last week I provided names associated with MacGregor. In that list it was clear due to circumstances that MacGregors often had to change their name but looking at the list you could see a lot of names that were already in use. That means there is simply no way you can claim all people of that name were Septs of the clan.

And let us not forget that the more names you can mention as a Sept of your clan then hopefully the more paying members you are going to get. And thus this is probably going to mean that most clans will not provide clarity on their Sept lists. We should thus hold these clans and clan societies to account to become more transparent on their Sept lists."

If you want to wear a particular tartan, go for it, just remember it's all in fun!

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