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  1. #1
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    A question regarding looking for Clan affiliation in my genealogy....

    I have recently gotten very interested in my family genealogy... specifically tracing my Patrilineal line through Scotland. My question relates to clan affiliation. Now, I will preface this by saying I fully understand that Clan affiliation is not as meaningful as it once was (there are so many branches of families, spts claimed by multiple clans etc.) and has largely become a social exercise at this point, particularly in the US.

    My family name KINGHORN is habitational, with no direct connection to any recognized clan through the male line when traced back to the mid 1600's. However, on multiple occasions the my multi-great grandfathers married women who likely did belong to a recognized clan. The question (at last) is this...

    Knowing that the Matrilineal line is less commonly used, would it be more accurate to associate myself with whatever Clan we intermarried with most recently... or should I go back as far as possible under the assumption that Clan affiliation would be hereditary and passed down from my earliest known ancestor? I am really enticed by the community aspect and am eager to further my knowledge of history and customs of my forebears...

    Any and all advice or guidance is welcome...

  2. #2
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    20th June 11
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    Honestly, if you're looking for community I would simply identify the most active Clan or Scottish Society in your area and join it. Most Scots were not members of Highland clans, even back at the height of Highland culture in the 1740s.

    My Sime family is from Dundee. I have traced our family back to the early 1700s, and can find no evidence that they ever lived anywhere but Dundee, which is obviously not in the Highlands.

    Growing up, my Grandmother made sure that we knew we were part of Clan Fraser, and all my kilts have always been Fraser kilts. In my youth, I had a few Fraser pen pals, mostly corresponding with folks about Clan history, but that is about the extent of our family's inclusion within the Clan society.

    I would bet that my ancestors, prior to the Highland Revival, had zero association with the Clan Fraser. Further, that this association was manufactured from whole cloth in order to sell kilts.

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  4. #3
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    I think that you appear to go further back in your family history than most Scots bother to do. Just choose ONE tartan and stick with it, is what most Scots do. Why? Family histories generally get more unreliable the further back we go, perhaps that is why we over here rarely bother to discuss the matter and more importantly, we generally find that collecting tartans in kilt form is an unnecessary complication and expense.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jock Scot View Post
    I think that you appear to go further back in your family history than most Scots bother to do. Just choose ONE tartan and stick with it, is what most Scots do. Why? Family histories generally get more unreliable the further back we go, perhaps that is why we over here rarely bother to discuss the matter and more importantly, we generally find that collecting tartans in kilt form is an unnecessary complication and expense.
    Well, as I said, I understand this is an unimportant exercise for the most part. But, for me, it's about learning about my roots. I don't intend to go and purchse a kilt in every tartan I might have a minute connection to. Really, I am just trying to expand my research a bit and justbsee where things lead me.

  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdmondKinghorn View Post
    Well, as I said, I understand this is an unimportant exercise for the most part. But, for me, it's about learning about my roots. I don't intend to go and purchse a kilt in every tartan I might have a minute connection to. Really, I am just trying to expand my research a bit and justbsee where things lead me.
    I quite understand and I wish you luck.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

  8. #6
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    As you correctly identified, your Kinghorn surname seems to be locational. From a quick search it would seem to be most commonly associated with Fife District (also commonly referred to as the Kingdom of Fife). You could certainly adopt the Duke of Fife Tartan which is commonly known at the Fife District tartan. There is also a newer Pride of Fife tartan.

    You could then continue to search your history without having to worry about a slim connection to a clan.

    Here in the USA there is a group called the Scottish District Family Association which is active at many Highland games and Scottish festivals.
    President, Clan Buchanan Society International

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  10. #7
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    My family of border reivers is on both sides of the border but my side considers itself traditionally Scottish and Ulster Scots and is listed as a sept of the MacDonalds, as are a great many Scottish families it seems. I used that until I came across Clan Forrester, who have organized themselves anew down in the southern USA ('did it themselves' because the last laird died and being a Jacobite was not renewed) . Now I use their tartan and clan associations.

    To continue with my personal story, I have to say that Ancestry.com happily placed the large majority of my DNA all over Scotland with relatives mostly in the Scottish Lowlands and then Ulster and then North America, all of which followed family traditions on the paternal side. The big surprises were no native blood (as was hoped for) and a good dollop of Norwegian genes from long ago, which undoubtedly means that in forums like this I can't rag on the Vikings for attacking the Lallans homeland anymore.

  11. #8
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    The thing to keep in the back of your mind when doing your genealogy is - first, DNA cannot tell you nationality or language or social connections.

    And second that you do not have just one line of ancestry. You have 2 parents - who each have 2 parents - who each have 2 parents.

    If you go back just 5 generations you have 32 grandparents. 32 different and separate lines.

    And it all comes down to where your ancestors lived. If they lived in Glasgow, Edinburgh or anywhere south of Stirling. Or on the East coast south of Aberdeen. They may not have considered themselves as affiliated with a Highland Clan and may not have felt that they had a Clan Tartan.
    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

  12. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    The thing to keep in the back of your mind when doing your genealogy is - first, DNA cannot tell you nationality or language or social connections.

    And second that you do not have just one line of ancestry. You have 2 parents - who each have 2 parents - who each have 2 parents.

    If you go back just 5 generations you have 32 grandparents. 32 different and separate lines.

    And it all comes down to where your ancestors lived. If they lived in Glasgow, Edinburgh or anywhere south of Stirling. Or on the East coast south of Aberdeen. They may not have considered themselves as affiliated with a Highland Clan and may not have felt that they had a Clan Tartan.
    It's nice when DNA confirms family traditions though. As far as attitudes go, did my Scots ancestors consider themselves highlanders? For the great majority, almost certainly not.

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