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It is helpful to understand how the clans and families came into being, where we
came from, how they were organised and the influence they played in society as a whole. It
is thought that all clans and families in Scotland and Ireland are as a result of just 5
tribes of the Gael. So if you are hunting up your clan associations it would be useful to
read C Thomas Cairney's book on the Clans and Families
of Ireland and Scotland which he has kindly let us publish on the site.
In particular, Part I of his book, explains how they all came into being.
Part II goes on to discuss individual clans and families and if you go to the Index page
of his book you can quickly locate your own family or clan name and from there go right to
the appropriate page.
As an alternative, or perhaps in addition, we'd recommend a
read of the Explantion of Clanship which will give
you an extremely detailed guide to how clans were formed and how they operated. Having
read that you might move to our section on Kings of the
Isles as this shows the influence of the Irish as well as the Danes and
Norwegians. The information on these two pages come from sources researched around 1830.
When it comes to Scottish clans we have individual pages for
Official Clans recognised by the Lord Lyon Court which you can see on our Scottish
Clan Menu Index. We do also have information on "unofficial"
clans and other family names in our Other
It is important to note we at Electric
Scotland are not experts in Clan histories and merely continue to seek
accounts of individual clans from many sources. We are not adverse to
adding additional accounts as we come across them simply because out of
each account a little more is learned. It should also be noted that Clan
Chief's themselves were not adverse to "improving" on their own
official histories to make themselves look a little more important or to
minimise a particularly sorry part in their clan history.
You should also look
out for "Clan Members Web Sites" on individual clan pages as there we list any
clan members with their own web sites. These often contain useful additional information.
We also provide links from the clan pages to any official clan society web site. Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland Part II
will also give you additional information and in particular covers the Irish and
Scots-Irish families. We have also recently embarked on a Scots-Irish
section where we will be providing some history on
significant Irish Families.
It is important to note
that Official Clan Society web sites should be your main source for
information on your clan so do check them out. From each of our clan
pages we do list any official clan site where we know of them.
We are also in the process of adding the Great
Historic Families of Scotland to the site.
We'd also recommend a read of the MacDonalds, Campbells
and MacGregors to give you a flavour of just
three of the major Scottish clans. Note however that most clan pages contain information
on other clans as there were many battles with each other and so many references and
additional information can be included in other clan pages. On this subject our General History of the Highlands
contains many accounts of clan battles.
Researching your Clan
Should you be trying to find out which clan you belong to then try our Septs page where we explain all about what Septs are and
also list most of the known septs under the major clans and then our Alphabetical clan name listings if you still can't
find your name. There is also a listing of Surnames under the Clans
and Families of Ireland and Scotland.
I'd just add here that many spellings have changed over the
years and especially due to emigration to the US where many names were spelled as they
sounded. That being the case if you can't find your actual spelling try saying your name
out loud and try an alternative spelling from that and also remember that many Scots that
emigrated to the US were Gaelic speakers and hence the accent would be different.
If a name is not found look under other
possible spelling variations such as "Lezly" as
"Leslie". "Gil" may have been "il" or
"el" " Mc " and " M' " are simple
abbreviations for "Mac" and do not denote Scots or Irish
heritage. A name that once began with "n" may now begin
with "r" and the final "c" of "Mac" may have
been duplicated into a second "c" or a "k" (MacOmber-MacComber;
Since Gaelic requires sound changes when
"Mac" is prefixed, try pronouncing the new name aloud
substituting a new first letter on the second part of the name, and you
may hear the original...
"b" or "m" for a
"v" MacVean to MacBean, MacVickle to MacMichael.
"p" for an "f" MacFall to MacPaul
"d" for "g" or "t" MacGonell to
MacDonell, MacLout to MacLeod
Gaelic "f" becomes silent after
"Mac"; try reinserting it - MacLetcher to MacFletcher.
Note that the most populous two-thirds
of Scotland was under the Anglo-Norman feudal, not the clan, system. The
majority of Scots were not "Highlanders" nor Gaelic speakers and
did not historically wear tartan.
The next most asked question we get is where is my clan shield and the answer to that is really that there
isn't one as it's owned only by the chief of the clan and can't be used by clan members.
But this page will tell you all about it and as it comes direct from the Lord Lyons office
you can be assured of its accuracy. Clans and Families
of Ireland and Scotland does include an Appendix on Coats of Arms.
For general advice on genealogy research we have included our
ScotRoot page where we tell you what we can
and can't do to help. We also provide pointers to other sites that might be able to help.
Should you be looking for your clan
tartan then check out our page where you can use the Scottish
Tartans Society database.
Having done all that you might consider joining one of our
webboard systems as 91% of our visitors come from a Scottish ethnic background and so
you'll be able to message with fellow Scots in either our main webboard or
webboard. It's all free
and if this is your first time in such a system then you just need to register the once
and we'd recommend you just have a wee read of the various messages to get a hang of how
it all works then post your own messages when you are ready. (Note: You do require
to have cookies and java enabled to use the service). This does give you many more people
to talk with and as most will come from a Scottish or Irish background there is a
reasonable chance someone in there can help.
I'd recommend that you make use of our Site Search
Engine as through using that you may well find various documents that refer to
your clan. For example I did a search for Killiecrankie, the famous battle, and that
gave me a number of links to other clan pages where the clan had participated in the
battle. So the Site Search Engine will
help you do some cross reference work.
We also have a genealogy section where you can post your own
family information and any mini bios on clan members as well as read information sent in
by other Electric Scotland Visitors. The section is called Mini Biographies
of Scots and Scots Descendants.
In addition, tucked away in our history section, you can read
about Scots and Scots-Irish descendants at our Scots
Descendants page and do also check out our Page on Burke's
Peerage & Gentry.
For general advice on what tartan to wear you might visit our
Wearing the Tartan page.
On a final note I'd also just remind you that we have loads
of historical information in our History
section and I'd recommend a read of the History
section's introduction page for an overview. Our General History of Scotland contains
masses of information on Scottish clans and their battles with one another
and indeed our Highland
Regiments page will also give additional information.
I hope this short introduction is useful and hope you enjoy
reading through our histories and other information.