Clans & Surnames

The term “clan” (from the Gaelic clann: children, offspring) is generally accepted as meaning “family”. A clan was a tribal society with the family unit as its basis and membership could result from marriage, adoption, land acquisition, having a needed specialized skill, etc.... All clan members were required to support the clan and in turn, the members fell under the protection of the clan. Clans were territorial, ruling over and defending their territories against threats to their sovereignty. Alliances and feuds were common among the clans. Although the term “clan” (clann) is not exclusively a Scottish term, Scotland readily comes to mind when it is used. The histories of the present day Scottish clans go back several hundred years, but the origin of the Scottish clan system has not been satisfactory determined.