9th February 10, 05:34 PM
Something I don't know about after all these years...
Can anyone tell me how it is determined that you are part of a major clan via your last name, even if its not that clan's name. Like my last name has its own clan, however, I'm entitled to wear the Lamont and MacMillan tartans. How is that determined. Does this belong in tartan&heraldry ?
9th February 10, 06:36 PM
Lots and lots of genealogical research Only way to be sure which clan your sept had fealty to... or whether you're a mac Leod of Harris or Lewis, that kind of thing.
9th February 10, 06:54 PM
Refer to the book entitled "The Surnames of Scotland" by Black. It's an ultimate authority. Also "The Encyclopedia of Scottish Clans and Families" is another good reference.
9th February 10, 07:21 PM
We use a book titled "Scots Kith and Kin" here in the shop. We also have other [resource type] books with some lists of septs as well.
9th February 10, 10:08 PM
Some affiliations between clans are historical. But the reasons for these friendly ties have been lost in time.
They may have been for commercial, military or marital reasons...
Books indicate them as “mysterious ties”. Very poetic and epic.
10th February 10, 08:47 AM
The historical tradition is that you "belong" to your father's clan, ie: the clan most closely associated with your surname. So, while I have McBain, Boyd, Stewart, Chisholm, etc. cousins, my clan is Clan MacMillan. Could I wear the other tartans? Sure, in the same way I could wear any tartan I wanted-- but I don't. In the instance of what have come to be called "sept names" a degree of guesswork sometimes comes into play, especially in the absence of any genealogical evidence. Take the name "Bell"-- it can be a Highland name (from around Loch Tay), or a Lowland name (the Blackett House Bells from the Scottish Borders) or an English name. Without some genealogical link to a specific area a "Mr. Bell" who wishes to assert his believed Scottish heritage will usually turn to Black's list of Scottish surnames (the basis of most "sept lists") and from there "adopt" his tartan, and by extension become a member of a clan, wear the badge of it's chief, and take part in all of its activities. And in my opinion there is nothing wrong with that.
As Jock Scot has pointed out in the past, "multiple affiliation kilting" is a North American phenomenon not normally seen in Scotland where clan identity is more of a given. "You are what you are" being a very Scots attitude, very few Scots would think of wearing any tartan other than that directly associated with their surname or, perhaps, their regiment.
Last edited by MacMillan of Rathdown; 10th February 10 at 08:59 AM.
10th February 10, 09:08 AM
Originally Posted by MacMillan of Rathdown
I'd point out, though, that there are certain "complications" to this good rule of thumb which must be worked out through genealogical research. Take several examples from Clan MacMillan:
1. You might bear the surname Brown (one of the associated surnames) and be descended from a highlander who was an adherent of the Chief of Clan MacMillan, and not connected at all with the lowland "Broun" family and it's (relatively) recently-created tartan, in which case it would be more "fitting" to wear the MacMillan tartan.
2. You might bear the surname Bell and be descended from an adherent of Clan MacMillan who had the Scots Gaelic version of his name MacMillan anglicized into "Bell". In this case you would more properly wear the MacMillan tartan rather than the "Bell of the Borders" tartan that is associated with that family.
3. You might bear one of the surnames "Blue" or "Baxter" and be descended from an adherent of the Chief of Clan MacMillan. Both these surnames have long been asociated with Clan MacMillan, but recently tartans have been designed for each surname. This often leads people to believe that there is a "Baxter Clan" or "Blue Clan", although this isn't the case. In this example, if adhering to the traditional understanding of a "clan" is important you would wear the MacMillan tartan, rather than the new creations.
In closing, the important bit is the "be descended from" part. If you really want to know if you have a connection to a particular tartan you have to do the research!
Last edited by davidlpope; 10th February 10 at 09:16 AM.
10th February 10, 08:55 AM
What is the Scottish tradition when someone marries into a family with a non-clan-affiliated surname? Are the children relegated to a tartan-less existence?
The historical tradition is that you "belong" to your father's clan, ie: the clan most closely associated with your surname.
I mean, surely there are modern born-and-raised Scottish Highlanders who carry names other than the traditional clan-affiliated names, but consider themselves Highlanders and wear an occasional kilt. Do they default to regional tartans?
10th February 10, 09:10 AM
Good question, I was wondering about the same in this thread:
Originally Posted by Tobus
10th February 10, 09:20 AM
Basically it is up to the individual. Let's say Moira Campbell from Loch Fyne married Mr. John DeGrazzio and came to live in Burbank, California. Their children might have no interest in things Scottish, being happy to belong to the Sons of Italy, or the Native Sons of the Golden West. On the other hand, they might want to assert their Scottishness, in which case they could go the whole hog and take their Mother's maiden name, or they could simply honour the "quaint custom" of wearing their Mother's tartan.
Originally Posted by Tobus
When this happens (as it does all the time) their choices are pretty straight forward-- they can wear their Mother's tartan and, if asked, simply reply with something like, "My Mother's people are Campbells from around Loch Fyne." Or they can wear one of the "universal" tartans, or a district tartan, or whatever they want. Generally speaking, in Scotland, no one comes up to you and asks about your tartan-- it is assumed that you are wearing a tartan to which you have some attachment, and that's an end to it.
Originally Posted by Tobus
In Scotland people generally have about the same interest in someone's tartan as people in Texas have about someone's blue jeans. In other words, it no big deal what someone else is wearing.
Last edited by MacMillan of Rathdown; 10th February 10 at 09:29 AM.
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