A Scottish clan (from Gaelic clann, “children”) is a kinship group among the Scottish people. Court of the Lord Lyon regulates Scottish heraldry and coats of arms.
It is a common misconception that every person who bears a clan’s name is a lineal descendant of the chiefs.
Many clanspeople although not related to the chief took the chief’s surname as their own to either show solidarity, or to obtain basic protection or for much needed sustenance.
Most of the followers of the clan were tenants, who supplied labour to the clan leaders. Contrary to popular belief, the ordinary clanspeople rarely had any blood tie of kinship with the clan chiefs, but they took the chief’s surname as their own when surnames came into common use in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Many clans have their own clan chief. Scottish clans generally identify with geographical areas in Scotland originally controlled by their founders, sometimes with an ancestral castle and clan gatherings, which form a regular part of the social scene today.
A list of clans can be found here.
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