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  1. #1
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    Newbie from Kentucky - Which Clan tartan should I wear

    I'm new here and am in the market for my first Kilt. And want to be respectful of Scottish heritage and customs. Which Clan tartan should I wear?

    I have been doing heritage research through Ancestry.com for a few years now. My surname (Finfrock) is German. My Paternal Grand-parents were Finfrock and Deardoff (quite German) and my maternal Grand-Parents were VonderSchmitt and Flanagan. Once again German mixed with a smidgen of Irish. So, naturally I was anticipating heavy German ancestry. What I discovered was a boatload of Scottish. Especially on my Paternal side. I did the Ancestry DNA and it turns out my DNA confirms the digital paper trail I found. I'm only about 6% German and 5% Norwegian. 89% is Scottish, English and Irish with the bulk of those three overlapping in Scottish.

    After a few generations the German lines (save for the primary surnames) give way to the Scottish and English. Of the recognized Clans that I can find in my line there is Bruce, MacAlister, MacNeil, Fraser, Wood and MacLeod. The Bruce line is closest paternal line. With 8 generations between my 5th Great-Grandfather and myself. The other Clans paternal lines are 10, 12, 12, 13 and 14 generations back. However, within the generational trees - Fraser, MacLeod and Wood all join into the Bruce line and MacNeil into the MacAlister line.

    I don't want to claim a Clan I have no right to. Being a military veteran "stolen valor" is something I take seriously. And in my view "stolen heritage" equates to the same thing.
    Last edited by Michael F; 13th July 19 at 05:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the "Great Rabble"!

    Traditionally, clans run straight through the paternal line, but when there is not a run straight through, it can detour via a Mum somewhere along the way, or several if need be,

    ...BUT

    Not every Scot belongs to a clan, and Scots who don't actually have a clan name may indeed have a clan connection.

    As it turns out, tartans are historically more regional even than familial. I'm a case in point for all of the above, but that's another story. Find your auld sod and you're a lot closer to a tartan, but it may not even be a clan tartan. There are a lot of regional ones.

    Stick around. The guys and gals here will happily help you in your determinations, and rest assured, there is a tartan for you. Maybe even several!

    Cheers!
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Sinclair.

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  4. #3
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    13th July 19
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    Thanks for the advice Father Bill. As it turns out the State of Kentucky actually has a registered tartan. At lease through the "Scottish Register of Tartans". Can you tell me, it that a legitimate agency? https://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/ta...tails?ref=1950

  5. #4
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    24th September 04
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    Victoria, BC Canada 48 25' 47.31"N 123 20' 4.59" W
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    One of the surprises many people get when they begin begin their genealogy research is that human relationships are seldom as clean and clear-cut as they at first may have thought.

    What many people are surprised to find is is that we are all mutts.

    If you add all the myth and mystery that has grown up around cultures it becomes even more muddied and un-clear.

    On of the most prevalent myths - is that if you have Scottish ancestry or heritage - That you are somehow automatically part of a Scottish Highland Clan.

    The vast majority of Scots today, and through out history, do/did not live in the Highlands and were not part of the Clan system.

    Even within the Highlands the Clan borders were not set with lines drawn on the landscape. Areas of influence were fluid and affiliations changed.

    A valley may be under the affiliation of a particular Clan but not everyone living or working within that valley would have the same name or be related by blood to that Clan.

    Oh, how nice and neat and clean it all would be if it were that simple.

    The general wisdom is to do your research. Follow the document paper trail. One document to the next. It is a fascinating thing to discover and many spend a lifetime tracking down the documents that make up a genealogy.

    If you can track your ancestors to a place or region within the Highlands it may be possible to deduce if a Clan affiliation were possible.

    But even if you find that your ancestors were not from the Highlands, all is not lost. While Tartans do have names, (we have to call them something), they are far less rigid or set than some would like to believe in an attempt to make it simple, neat and easy.

    Tartan tells the world "This is what went into who I am today". There are Tartans for every aspect of the human experience. Those things that gives people today a sense of belonging and identity. There are Tartans that have been given the names of the Highland Clans, but also many Lowland families. Places, areas, regions have Tartan. Clubs, and groups have Tartans. Companies have Tartans. There are private and personal Tartans. And there are totally universal Tartans for those who wish to wear Tartan without all the baggage.

    Find a Tartan that you like, that has meaning to you, and that allows you to tell the world "This is who I am today".
    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 13th July 19 at 07:23 PM.
    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

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  7. #5
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    While there have bee many attempts over the past couple hundred years to compile and list the Tartan designs no one is ever perfect. The Scottish Register of Tartan is the list that today is administered by the National Records of Scotland.
    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 13th July 19 at 07:36 PM.
    Steve Ashton
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  9. #6
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    Hey Michael. The Kentucky tartan is a nice pattern as well as some of the clan names in your list. I have two kilts and neither is my clan tartan. My first was the US Army tartan. As a vet you can appreciate the brotherhood within that clan. I believe the right tartan will appear and you will just have the connection with it. Keep us posted.

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael F View Post
    Thanks for the advice Father Bill. As it turns out the State of Kentucky actually has a registered tartan. At lease through the "Scottish Register of Tartans". Can you tell me, it that a legitimate agency? https://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/ta...tails?ref=1950
    Absolutely legitimate - about as good as they get!
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Sinclair.

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  13. #8
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    10th October 08
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    Louisville, Kentucky, USA (38 13' 11"N x 85 37' 32"W gets you close)
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    Hello from just down the road in Louisville, Michael. Welcome to the Rabble.

    The Commonwealth of Kentucky tartan is indeed real and legit - the Kentucky United Pipes and Drums out of Lexington wears it. The 'About Us' page on their site tells about the tartan (right hand side).

    Since it's essentially a custom weave, every once on a while they commission another run and may let other interested parties request some yardage for themselves, but it's been a while since the last one. From what I understand, their membership has been somewhat static of late, so they haven't had a need for new kilts to be made. You might inquire there to see if there is an extra in your size they'd be willing to sell, or if there are plans for a new weave order any time soon.

    There are also some German heritage tartans (just search 'German tartan'), or, as Fr Bill suggested, if you can trace your lineage to a primary area of Scotland, you could wear the regional tartan of that area.
    John

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  15. #9
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    Thanks everyone for the advice and insight. I like the fact that there are no hard and fast rules for choosing a Tartan - with the exception that it is something very personal. as Steve said; "This is what went into who I am today". However, given my age, that does make it a wee bit tougher. A LOT went into who I am today... . Ancestry & Heritage, faith & beliefs, regional influences, US Navy military service, seized and missed opportunities. Right and wrong decisions. Not to mention the things that just "call to me" - A lot to digest.

    Thanks again for the guidance.

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