Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Scottish Clan system

The origin of the Scottish Clan system is lost in the mists of time. However we only really become aware of them in the fourteenth century when John of Fordun wrote “The manner of the Scots varies with the diversity of their speech. For two languages are spoken among them, the Scottish (Gaelic) and the Teutonic (lowland Scots) the later is the language of those who occupy the seaboard and the plains, while those of Scottish speech inhabit the highlands and isles. The people of the coast are of domestic and civilised habits, trusty, patient, and urbane, decent in the attire, affable, and peaceful….yet always ready to resist a wrong at the hand of their enemies.

The Highlanders and people of the islands, on the other hand, are a savage and untamed nation, rude and independent, given to rapine, idle, passionate and easily led, comely in person but unsightly in dress, hostile and unmerciful to the English people and language, and even to their own nation owing to the diversity of speech. They are however faithful and obedient to their king and country, and easily made to submit to law, if properly governed

It should be noted John of Fordun was a Lowlander. In this series of articles I will go through each of the Scottish Clans explaining how they originated and their history and who of note are connected to them. Before starting it should be noted that many of the great highland names only appear in the 17th century and like Tartan are of quite recent origin. Many Clan surnames are derived from the name of the Chief or from their appearance. It should also be noted that Sept names apply to a previous generation.

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