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  1. #1
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    Armigerous Clans and use of Clansman's badge

    Quote Originally Posted by M. A. C. Newsome View Post
    But in any case, the way one really displays one's loyalty to a clan is by displaying the crest badge of said clan. The crest represents the cheif and the strap and buckle signifies that your loyalty to the chief.
    Quote Originally Posted by MacMillan of Rathdown
    As to the use of a clansman's badge, like it or not, there is no automatic "right" to wear or display the same. In Scotland the crest, motto, and buckle and strap devise are technically and legally the property of the chief. As such he has the right to control its use, and to say who may--or may not-- wear the badge of a clansman. It has nothing to do with your surname, and everything to do with the good humour of your chief.
    I have learned much about heraldry from this site, especially using the search function. In another current thread, Matt made the statement above and MoR made a similar statement in an older, closed thread, all of which has come to be my understanding. I would add an understanding that I did not have prior to visiting XMTS over the last couple of years.

    My question is how does this all relate to Armigerous Clans who do not have a chief? I have some familiarity with Clan MacRae for instance and know they are recognized as a clan, have a long history and have been trying to work toward having a recognized chief by the Court of the Lord Lyon. I know they have societies in Scotland, North America and abroad and conduct "clan business" to whatever level they can, short of what having a chief would confer upon them. However, when it comes to something like a clansman's badge, who controls the use of it if there is no chief? Are these crests in limbo pending the appointment of a chief? Or does this become a grey area?

    I hope this isn't a contentious issue, as I certainly have no interest in creating controversy. My question is academic as it really has little bearing on me, though I know that for some these become significant life altering issues.

    Some background might be helpful as to why I even became interested in the issue. As I have stated elsewhere in this forum, I have no Scottish ancestry of which I know. I started playing the pipes in my teens with the then Clan MacRae Pipe Band of Detroit. I understood that the band had received permission from someone within Clan MacRae to use the name, image, etc. and apparently "they" were flattered by the request (this was probably in the 1960s). I really have no idea why the name was chosen, which occured long before my joining; perhaps an original member or donor? The pipe band dis-banded long ago. Anyway, this became my adopted clan, so to speak.

    Since I learned of the significance of the the clansman's badge, I've felt less comfortable about wearing it and rarely do now. I'm very upfront with people about my non-Scottish heritage and do believe I honor the MacRaes well by wearing their tartan. Over time, I think I've come to know and understand more about the history of Scotland and piping than most people I encounter. As I still honor and treasure my true ethnic heritage from Poland, it's like having a dual cultural citizenship.

    Back to my question, who does control the crest, motto and buckle and strap device of an Armigerous Clan?
    Ken

    "The best things written about the bagpipe are written on five lines of the great staff" - Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, MBE

  2. #2
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    Clans themelves are not "armigerous". The chief of a clan is armigerous, a clan society may be armigerous, and, of course, individual members of the clan may be armigerous, but the clan itself, is not armigerous.

    In the instance of MacRae, Buchanan, and other clans where the chiefship is in abeyance, the clanfolk wear the badge of the last known chief-- in the hopes that one day his lawful successor will come stumbling out of the Amazonian jungles to claim his rightful place as "Chief of the name and arms" of the clan.

    In a very real sense the Clan Society acts as a sort of ad hoc trustee in protecting the heraldic rights of a person "unknown" and in regulating the use of that person's heraldic property. Practically speaking there is nothing that can be done to prevent someone usurping a non-existent right to wear any clan badge, and this happens all the time.

    My personal view is that one should only wear a clan badge if they profess allegiance to the chief of that clan, even if the chief's exact location is, for the moment, unknown. For all we know the Chief of the Buchanans (or the MacRaes) could be hacking his way through the Amazonian jungles right now as he searches for the missing aircraft of the renown aviator, Peter Peel.

    So, should you wear the badge of the missing MacRae chief? Sure, why not? If you feel strongly about the "rights and the wrongs" of wearing a clansman's badge, then join the Clan MacRae Society.
    Last edited by MacMillan of Rathdown; 26th October 09 at 07:57 PM.

  3. #3
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    MOR - sorry to be picky, but since I'm one of them it's McRae, not McRea!

    Brian

    In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarborSpringsPiper View Post
    I have learned much about heraldry from this site, especially using the search function. In another current thread, Matt made the statement above and MoR made a similar statement in an older, closed thread, all of which has come to be my understanding. I would add an understanding that I did not have prior to visiting XMTS over the last couple of years.

    My question is how does this all relate to Armigerous Clans who do not have a chief? I have some familiarity with Clan MacRae for instance and know they are recognized as a clan, have a long history and have been trying to work toward having a recognized chief by the Court of the Lord Lyon. I know they have societies in Scotland, North America and abroad and conduct "clan business" to whatever level they can, short of what having a chief would confer upon them. However, when it comes to something like a clansman's badge, who controls the use of it if there is no chief? Are these crests in limbo pending the appointment of a chief? Or does this become a grey area?

    I hope this isn't a contentious issue, as I certainly have no interest in creating controversy. My question is academic as it really has little bearing on me, though I know that for some these become significant life altering issues.

    Some background might be helpful as to why I even became interested in the issue. As I have stated elsewhere in this forum, I have no Scottish ancestry of which I know. I started playing the pipes in my teens with the then Clan MacRae Pipe Band of Detroit. I understood that the band had received permission from someone within Clan MacRae to use the name, image, etc. and apparently "they" were flattered by the request (this was probably in the 1960s). I really have no idea why the name was chosen, which occured long before my joining; perhaps an original member or donor? The pipe band dis-banded long ago. Anyway, this became my adopted clan, so to speak.

    Since I learned of the significance of the the clansman's badge, I've felt less comfortable about wearing it and rarely do now. I'm very upfront with people about my non-Scottish heritage and do believe I honor the MacRaes well by wearing their tartan. Over time, I think I've come to know and understand more about the history of Scotland and piping than most people I encounter. As I still honor and treasure my true ethnic heritage from Poland, it's like having a dual cultural citizenship.

    Back to my question, who does control the crest, motto and buckle and strap device of an Armigerous Clan?
    You raise an interesting question. I am a Crawford, and a member of Clan Crawford Association. We do not currently have a Chief, yet I do wear the clan crest with buckle and strap. I am also supportive of the clan in locating a successor and becoming again recognized by The Court of the Lord Lyon, though I have been unable to trace my own pedigree far enough to claim a right to membership.

    Robert

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMillan of Rathdown View Post
    Clans themelves are not "armigerous". The chief of a clan is armigerous, a clan society may be armigerous, and, of course, individual members of the clan may be armigerous, but the clan itself, is not armigerous.
    Thanks for clarifying this. I had seen the term "armigerous clan" on a couple of sites I had visited but also went back and saw this on a web encyclopaedia:
    Encyclopedia > Armigerous clan
    An armigerous clan or Family, is a Scottish clan the chief of which has matriculated arms with the Lyon Office. Some believe that those clans which do not currently have a chief recognised by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms (a law officer under Scots law) but do have a member who has matriculated arms can be considered armigerous. The clan itself cannot be considered armigerous since in Scotland only a natural or legal person can be armigerous.
    Ken

    "The best things written about the bagpipe are written on five lines of the great staff" - Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, MBE

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMillan of Rathdown View Post

    Snip...

    For all we know the Chief of the Buchanans (or the MacRaes) could be hacking his way through the Amazonian jungles right now as he searches for the missing aircraft of the renown aviator, Peter Peel.

    Snip...
    Well played sir!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMillan of Rathdown View Post
    Clans themelves are not "armigerous". The chief of a clan is armigerous, a clan society may be armigerous, and, of course, individual members of the clan may be armigerous, but the clan itself, is not armigerous.

    In the instance of MacRae, Buchanan, and other clans where the chiefship is in abeyance, the clanfolk wear the badge of the last known chief-- in the hopes that one day his lawful successor will come stumbling out of the Amazonian jungles to claim his rightful place as "Chief of the name and arms" of the clan.

    In a very real sense the Clan Society acts as a sort of ad hoc trustee in protecting the heraldic rights of a person "unknown" and in regulating the use of that person's heraldic property. Practically speaking there is nothing that can be done to prevent someone usurping a non-existent right to wear any clan badge, and this happens all the time.

    My personal view is that one should only wear a clan badge if they profess allegiance to the chief of that clan, even if the chief's exact location is, for the moment, unknown. For all we know the Chief of the Buchanans (or the MacRaes) could be hacking his way through the Amazonian jungles right now as he searches for the missing aircraft of the renown aviator, Peter Peel.

    So, should you wear the badge of the missing MacRae chief? Sure, why not? If you feel strongly about the "rights and the wrongs" of wearing a clansman's badge, then join the Clan MacRae Society.
    We share the same understanding that allegiance is a very big issue here, Rathdown. Wearing somebody else's signature on one's bonnet, lapel, little finger, belt buckle. sporran, sgian dubh or kilt apron is making a significant statement that must be clearly understood before the wearing takes place.

    The system that makes the belted crest available for one to wear in the first place is not a democratic one. There can be no discussion about that here or anywhere else because that is simply the way it is.

    Those who choose to wear a crest in this manner are acknowledging a certain obligation to the owner of the crest. Servitude, if you wish; superiority, as you will; seniority, if it pleases you; patriarchy, if you are inclined.

    There are only two things to be considered: (a) I am willing, content and happy to accept the foregoing, or (b) I am not.

    If you fall into the (a) category then you may request membership in the clan and, if accepted by the chief or head of the clan/family (you will be, beyond a doubt!), you need never pay dues and will be a clansperson until either you, or your chief, decides otherwise.

    If you fall into category (b) you are not a member of the clan.

    Of course in either case you may make application to join a clan association that uses the same name as the clan. There are lots of them around; not clans at all, but good, solid groups of people sharing sometimes the same surname and the same goal. An association of folks with like interest.

    So join a Macrae society if you wish to work towards the re-establishment of a leading family for the Macraes, or because you like their company; or simply wear the belted crest of the last known Macrae as a public statement of your position, role or standing within the clan when it next has a head, the one to whom you are obligated because you wear his crest.
    Last edited by ThistleDown; 26th October 09 at 10:44 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThistleDown View Post
    Of course in either case you may make application to join a clan association that uses the same name as the clan. There are lots of them around; not clans at all, but good, solid groups of people sharing sometimes the same surname and the same goal. An association of folks with like interest.

    So join a Macrae society if you wish to work towards the re-establishment of a leading family for the Macraes, or because you like their company; or simply wear the belted crest of the last known Macrae as a public statement of your position, role or standing within the clan when it next has a head, the one to whom you are obligated because you wear his crest.

    The above is great advice. No better way to establish your 'connection' than to join the clan society. Tartan and badge wearing then are accomplished in the spirit you have stated. It also allows you to support your society by volunteering efforts as well.

    I wanted to make sure I also thanked you for playing the pipes--AND for playing them in DETROIT!! Hurray for the locals!

    -Detroit "Pete"
    Proud Michigan Covenor of the Clan MacLaren Society of North America
    [I][B]Ad fontes[/B][/I]

  9. #9
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    From what I understand an Armigerous Clan is called that because while it is recognised as a clan by Lord Lyon, it lacks the leadership of a chief. This leads the Armigerous members of the clan to lead it.

  10. #10
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    As a native Scot living in Scotland it is my understanding of the position that although a clan or family may have no chief, the Lord Lyon can grant the right to bear Arms to individual members of that family, hence the clan or family is commonly referred to as armigerous, although it is the individual members rather than any clan chief who bear Arms.
    When I had previously referred in another thread to a link to wikipedia as supporting the view that clans such as Crawford and Cunningham were armigerous, MoR was quick to contradict this and call the wiki article garbage, yet the Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopaedia by George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire which I regard as the authoritative work on such matters, lists these clans under the section headed "The Armigerous Clans and Families of Scotland"
    Vice-President and Regional Director for Scotland for Clan Cunningham International, and a Scottish Armiger.

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