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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - February/March 2004
Bells Unite


William H. Bell

After several months of discussion, we are pleased to announce that The Clan Bell Society of Scotland has consented to join in cooperation with Clan Bell International, and the 17 countries that have their own Bell representation, in our quest to have a Chief of the Bells appointed by the Lyon Court.

It has been decided to request an individual who is an expert in Lyon Court procedure to present our case to the Lord Lyon and gain his approval to appoint a "Cean-cath" or Commander of the Clan. The method to choose the Commander would in all probability be an Ad-hoc Gilfine, which needs only five Scottish tenants to vote on the Commander selection.

We had approval for a Gilfine in 1988, but this was cancelled by Lyon as our genealogist James Thompson had found living Blackethouse Bells. This "find" resulted in Douglas Bell, CBE, being specified as our Chief Apparent with the petition formally begun in 1990.

No doubt you are aware that an effort has been underway for the past 13 years to prepare the necessary petition, with proofs, to obtain from the Lyon Court authorization to reestablish Clan Bell under a duly appointed Chief. Regrettably, that effort has not reached fruition, and it is extremely doubtful that it ever will. Further, we have no idea as to the status of the petition, and are thus placed in the position where we must now take control of the situation. We have chosen, therefore, to act on this matter jointly, the initial step being to seek Commander of the Clan approval.

Further to the seeking of a Commander of the Clan is the decision to also seek approval to appoint "Ceann-tighes" or Chieftains. These are next in line to the Cean-cath. The title Chieftain has been used synonymously for that of 'chief' and that until recent times there was no practical difference. Chieftains are heads of Gilfine branches of the Clan (i.e., sub house with the Clan). Under a Chief or Commander of the Clan, Chieftains would today, in all probability, be responsible for their own country's Bell organization.

Our objective is to bring administrative order to the Clan. A Commander of the Clan can later have a petition submitted to have him appointed Chief, if he has a genealogical right. If not, a petition may be submitted for an individual who has a better claim. Upon appointment, he would then become Chief and the position of Commander of the Clan would be abolished.

Each country's Bell organization is autonomous. No one organization holds the right to be prime. All have their own vote concerning the furtherment of the Clan until a Commander or Chief is appointed, then we all become part of the one Bell Clan and again have our true place within the recognized Scottish Families.

We are now united on a world basis with all Bell organizations cooperating, in fact, to attain Clan Bell reestablishment.

For more information about Clan Bell, contact: Bell-A-Peal Publication, Clan Bell International, 12147 Holly Knoll Circle, Great Falls, VA 22066.


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