The Clans of Scotland

The clans of Scotland gave, and still give people all over the world a sense of unity.

The word comes from the Gaelic, and means children of the family.

Each one was made up of a large group of related family members, and Septs, which often included members of other families, in effect a very large extended family.

Over the centuries they looked to their Chiefs as their ruler and protector, and it was to them that they swore their allegiance.

Their existence dates as far back as the 9th century.

In fact the clan MacGregor claim to be descended from the Scots King Kenneth MacAlpin, who became King of the Picts in 843 and founded the Kingdom of Alba (modern day Scotland).

The decline of the clans of Scotland began with the Jacobite rebellion, when the Government of the day made repeated attempts to curb them.

This repression became brutal after the battle of Culloden in 1745.

In 1746 the Act of Proscription produced further measures restricting their ability to bear arms, to wear the kilt, their culture and even their music. They also removed the feudal authority the Chieftains had enjoyed.

Some of the traditional lands were being lost, and the

clan map of Scotland was changing.

Increasingly their Chiefs were being incorporated into British aristocracy and were loosing their traditional obligations to their members.

From about 1725 many members of the

Scottish clans had been emigrating to America, culminating in the mass migration which was to become known as the Highland Clearances, undoing the traditional clan system.

One of the biggest surviving clans is the

clan Cameron, which also happen to be one of the oldest.

The Dress Act which had banned the wearing of the kilt was repealed in 1782, further to that, the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822 spurred a revival of interest in all things Scottish.

It was around this time that the clans began to be associated with clan tartan, where as before tartans were linked to districts rather than families.

Nowadays interest and demand for their history has assured their survival and societies are being formed all over the world, as people delve into their family backgrounds.

A modern sign of allegiance to a clan and its Chief is to wear a clan badge, comprising the Chiefs crest encircled with a strap and buckle bearing his motto or slogan.

One enterprising Scottish company have developed a range of luxurious Scottish sweaters onto which they embroider your clan crest, follow the link for more information.

In principle the clan badge should only be worn with the permission of the Chief, and in cases where permission has been withheld, there has been intervention by the Lord Lyon Court.

The Lord Lyon Court defines a Clan or family as a legally recognized group, and does not differentiate between them.


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