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  1. #1
    Join Date
    5th January 19
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    How far back is too far?

    I've been looking into my family tree recently. My maternal grandfather was a Douglas, but I haven't been able to trace his lineage past his father. A little further up my tree (still on my mother's side, father's side was all English), I come across McCulley, 3 generations back. Again, I haven't been able to trace this lineage to determine which of 3 different clans they were a sept of. Going further back, 6 generations, I get to McConnell, which I do have information goes back to the 6th generation descendant of the fourth chief of Clan Donald South. So I'm 15 generations from the fourth Donald chief (6 from a McConnell daughter), 3 generations from a McCulley daughter, and one generation from a Douglas daughter.

    So how far back is too far? Should I stick with Douglas, being the nearest, even though they're the branch I have the least information about?
    I believe myself to be always operating within reasonable boundaries of sanity.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbuMaia View Post
    I've been looking into my family tree recently. My maternal grandfather was a Douglas, but I haven't been able to trace his lineage past his father. A little further up my tree (still on my mother's side, father's side was all English), I come across McCulley, 3 generations back. Again, I haven't been able to trace this lineage to determine which of 3 different clans they were a sept of. Going further back, 6 generations, I get to McConnell, which I do have information goes back to the 6th generation descendant of the fourth chief of Clan Donald South. So I'm 15 generations from the fourth Donald chief (6 from a McConnell daughter), 3 generations from a McCulley daughter, and one generation from a Douglas daughter.

    So how far back is too far? Should I stick with Douglas, being the nearest, even though they're the branch I have the least information about?
    With regard to what? Choosing a kilt? Were it me, Id wear either one.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    24th September 04
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    Victoria, BC Canada 48 25' 47.31"N 123 20' 4.59" W
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    When you are researching are you finding any locations? The Highland Clans were influenced areas. Such as valleys or - 'from this side of that Loch to that peak'.

    Not every one within an area would have the same name, and someone with a particular name could live somewhere else.

    If you look at the entire population of Scotland you will find that the majority were not part of the Highland Clan system at all.

    So what is far more important than name, is location. It is more about "where" your people come from.
    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

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  5. #4
    Join Date
    5th January 19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Me cousin Jack View Post
    With regard to what? Choosing a kilt? Were it me, Id wear either one.
    Choosing a kilt, applying for membership, etc. I have 5 clans to choose from here. One reasonably well documented, yet distantly related. One closely related, but poorly documented. Three others kind of middling, but requiring location information I don't have to determine which one.
    I believe myself to be always operating within reasonable boundaries of sanity.

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  7. #5
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    Depends on what you want to do - find out where your ancestors came from or wear their tartan?
    Bear in mind the further back you go, the less information is available, and unless you are lucky enough to find a link to a major land owner such as a farmer, or to the nobility, most ancestry research lines can't be traced back more than a couple of hundred years. I have kilts in Cunningham, Hamilton, MacLeod and Fraser tartans as I have ancestors from those families. My only Highland lineage which I was able to trace back to Inverness was the Fraser. My late wife Ann was a McConnell. The McConnells were a farming family from Dailly in Ayrshire so I was able to trace her McConnell lineage back to around 1700 and she bought me a kilt in McConnell tartan.
    Last edited by cessna152towser; 12th February 19 at 04:12 PM.
    Vice-President and Regional Director for Scotland for Clan Cunningham International, and a Scottish Armiger.

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  9. #6
    Join Date
    10th January 19
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    My personal attitude

    Quote Originally Posted by AbuMaia View Post
    So how far back is too far? Should I stick with Douglas, being the nearest, even though they're the branch I have the least information about?
    I'm dealing with a similar situation. My great great grandfather emigrated from Scotland to Canada. His name was William Brown. There is a Clan Brown ... but the Browns are also septs of Clan MacMillan, Clan Lamont, Clan Douglas, Clan MacDonald, and Clan Boyd (and maybe other clans). Finding a William Brown in Scotland is easy. Finding the correct William Brown in Scotland based on records from the mid 1800s ... well ... most haystacks are smaller than that.

    On the other side of the family are the Renwicks. Renwick is a place name, after the village of Renwick in Cumberland. That village has about 20 buildings in it. The Renwicks aren't a clan, but the Renwicks have a family tartan that dates back to at least the 1800s. I'm probably not descended from the people who had the family tartan, but it's almost guaranteed that we share a common ancestor (somewhere) in the borderlands.

    I also have Scots-Irish ancestors. I can trace them back to Ireland, but their surnames are clearly Scottish. For example, William Brown married my great great grandmother Isabella Miller from Tyrone County, Ireland. We have no idea when the Millers emigrated from Scotland to Ireland, but there's some indication that she identified as both Scottish and Irish.

    Choosing a kilt:
    Personally, I tend to place more weight on what I can prove, rather than the closeness of the relationship. My grandfather Arthur Brown (William Brown's grandson) immigrated to the U.S. from Canada. I'm 100% certain of that. Therefore, I'm strongly considering the Maple Leaf tartan (a Canadian district tartan) for my "high quality" kilt tartan. My grandmother (on the other side) was born a Renwick, so I'm strongly considering that tartan. I'm also considering the Tyrone County tartan and the Brown modern tartan.

    There are some tenuous links to other clans or districts (Thompson, MacMillan, Douglas, Boyd, MacFarlane, Glasgow, Galloway, Argyll, Lamont, Wicklow), some of which are rather close ties ... if they're correct.

    But what if one of the family genealogists discovers some information that proves that those clans or districts definitely aren't correct? Do I really want to invest several hundred dollars into a kilt, then discover a few years from now that it's definitely the wrong kilt?

    And let's not overlook the importance of aesthetics. When choosing my high quality kilt, I'll pick a tartan that I like the look of.

    Applying for clan membership:
    Seriously, I'm not in a rush. Just based on my initial research, both Clan Brown and Clan MacMillan would likely accept me as member based on my great great grandfather William Brown (and a few of the other clans might as well). But if I'm going to affiliate myself with one of those clans, I'd rather not be arbitrary about it. I would rather meet members of the clan, and then let that guide my decision.

    Or to put it another way, I'm not going to petition to join a "family" unless I've decided that I really like the people.
    Trying to look good on a budget.

  10. #7
    Join Date
    17th June 15
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    Are you joining a clan, or a clan society? In my experience, a society will be happy to have you based on claimed ancestry alone. I never had to show genealogy or paperwork of any kind. I don't know how one would join a clan, as until last year my clan had been armigerous, with no chief and to the best of my knowledge no way to apply or join. It's probably different across the pond, but as you are in the USA like me, your experience should be close.

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  12. #8
    Join Date
    7th February 11
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    I've addressed this a couple of times before: You cannot "join" a clan. Either you're a member by birth or you're not. You can join a clan association. It's a club for people who are a member of a clan (by birth) or in some cases, who support that clan or who are interested in that clan.

    Your clan does not charge dues, keep a membership list, or have application forms any more than your family does. It's a group of people who, one way or another are related to the clan and were so related the day they were born.

    Your clan association is usually the opposite of all of those. It will probably charge dues, keep a membership list and have an application form. It may or may not be composed of people who were related to the clan from birth.

    The clan chief (assuming that there is one) makes the official description of who is related by birth. S/he (yes, there is at least one female clan chief of whom I read recently) may also choose to include others who have different surnames including variant spellings and completely different names for reasons best known to the chief - usually because they come from the clan's lands. Some chiefs are more rigorous in their requirements than others.

    Belonging to either or both groups can be fun. You might unfortunately also run into members of the clan or its association who have different views of 'who belongs' or even, in the case of the clan association, 'who should belong' than the official rules or designations describe. Such people are best avoided for your own peace of mind in order to maximize the fun part. They're analogous to the 'kilt kops' who seem to think they know better than anyone else and cannot be convinced by either fact or logic.

    Hope all that helps a bit.

    Bill+
    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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  14. #9
    Join Date
    8th September 16
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    The tradition of Clan Donald, from what I understand of both family and the Clan members, you normally wear the tartan of your Father's side, not your materal side. I asked this question here several months ago, as my Grandmother on my paternal side (MacDonald), is a Chisholm. I wanted to purchase a Chisholm Kilt to wear to honor my Grandmother side, but was discouraged from doing so.

    I also have Macintosh, ( Paternal Grandfather MacDonald's Mother), Kennedy (Paternal Great Grandfather's Mother), other Paternal
    wives maiden names, MacDonnell, Huet, MacDonald, MacBride, MacKenna and MacIsaac all married MacDonald from Lochaber and Knoydart, all Clanranald MacDonalds, going back to 1640.

    So point that was made to me here and with other Scottish folks was you wear your paternal Clan tartan, not the maternal side tartan.

    Cheers.
    Allan Collin MacDonald III
    Grandfather - Clan Donald, MacDonald (Clanranald) /MacBride, Antigonish, NS, 1791
    Grandmother - Clan Chisholm of Strathglass, West River, Antigonish, 1803
    Scottish Roots: Knoidart, Inverness, Scotland, then to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.

  15. #10
    Join Date
    2nd March 11
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    Whenever I read these kind of threads I am very glad that there is a tartan which matches my surname and I like the colours so my choice is simple. The "rules" around what you should wear and what you should not are as varied as the people who offer them. I wear my kilt because it makes me feel good. I would chose the tartan for which you feel the strongest connection even if the evidence of connection is tenuous. No one is going to ask you for your papers. I see you are considering the Maple Leaf tartan. It is a beautiful one. If you would feel better having the "permission" of a Canadian to wear it....consider it given.

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