The Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA), the association for Scottish Clans and Families in the USA, have issued new guidance on what constitutes a Scottish Clan/Family Chief and their jurisdiction.
This is an evidenced and updated piece of information which may help our readers understand who may become chief and the process ie whether by genealogical proofs or a gathering is required and the Lord Lyon’s legal role in the matter.
The list of current chiefs recognised by Scottish Clan and Family Society both at home and abroad, is also listed below.
INFORMATION FROM THE STANDING COUNCIL OF SCOTTISH CHIEFS
As an adjunct, this piece taken from the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs (SCSC) website states: Clann has the literal meaning of “children” but also the generic meaning of a Gaelic kindred group, with a common surname and common ancestor, stemming principally from the highlands and western isles.
Several misconceptions have arisen in recent years. As interest in Scotland grows, so does romance.
There is much genuine romance about Scotland, especially surrounding the clans. The last major flourish was at the height of the Victorian era. Today, again, there is a yearning to be seen as part of a clan. But the reality, as distinct from fiction, is that there are, and always were, more names, name-groups and families than clans. Not all Scottish names, however distinguished, are clan names (nor in fact ever had a chief). The Bruces, for example, one of the most resonant names in Scottish history, are a family not a clan.
CARRUTHERS- CLAN OR FAMILY?
NB: Although listed in the 1587 Act of Unruly clans as a ‘clan’, one could argue as some most certainly do, that CARRUTHERS is a border family not a clan. This is in the same vein as Bruce being a lowland family and of course both are led by a hereditary Chief. Bruce having the Earl of Elgin at its head, while CARRUTHERS has Carruthers of Holmains as their chief. Because of this our society have always chosen to recognise Carruthers both as a family and as a clan.
This difference between clan and family and thus the reason for our choice is again highlighted by the following SCSC comment:
The growing assumption that every person recognized as a chief means that they must have a clan, though neat, is a false friend. A chief can just as well be head of a family – highland, lowland (north or south) or borders – as head of a clan. And to deny that there is as much pride in bearing the name of a distinct family, or House, as of a clan is misplaced.
The now fashionable pursuit of trying to turn any Scottish name into a clan risks devaluing all. It undermines and fails to respect the distinctions that run through Scottish history; and in the end, seeks to replace that history through “clan creation”. False history: false romance. Much of this may be driven by commercial considerations; though not all. To use the famous caveat, itself from the world of commerce: Beware Imitation.
As the official and only Carruthers society authorised by our chief to represent Carruthers internationally, we are fully aware of the dangers of imitation from such groups as the LLC/CCSI, which again is well covered by the statement made by the SCSC, seen below:
Sometimes confusion has arisen over the difference between clans and clan societies, especially in cases where a specific clan or family has no recognised chief (not the case for CARRUTHERS Ed). There need be no confusion. A society or association is not itself a clan. It serves as a means by which the historical clan or family can express its identity and kinship in the changed conditions of modern life, long after the original kindred have dispersed from their ancestral lands.
Societies and associations will normally have a Council, headed by Chairman or, as is often overseas, President. A chief can occupy that position. But the office does not turn a President into a chief (CARRUTHERS has Council made up of highly respected members of our family and headed by a Convenor. Ed. )
Membership of a clan or family – in any of its spellings and including recognised septs or branches – is by birth, marriage or descent. There is no election or formal admission procedure. The exception is if the chief (in our case Carruthers of Holmains ed.) chooses to admit someone, just as happened in history, who does not otherwise come under those criteria.
NEW GUIDANCE PIECE FROM COSCA
The new guidance mentioned by COSCA was issued by the Court of the Lord Lyon over 6 months ago on 16 December 2021 and offers some clarification to the legality and process.
Chiefs of the Name and Arms
The chiefship of a clan or family is regulated by the Lord Lyon King of Arms by regulation of arms. The Lord Lyon does not regulate the leadership of associations, societies or other corporate bodies created in support of a clan or family. That is an internal matter for the association, society or corporate body itself. Any chief recognised by the Lord Lyon as chief of a clan or family is chief of all who bear the name of the clan or family and not only those belonging to a particular body.
Since at least the 16th Century, to be recognised as chief of a clan or family has required an individual to be entitled to bear the undifferenced arms of the clan or family (i.e. the principal arms of the clan or family that descend from one chief to the next in undifferenced form through the generations) and so be “Chief of the Name and Arms” of the clan or family. It is for the Lord Lyon to determine who has legally succeeded and is entitled to bear the undifferenced arms of a clan or family.
Where a hereditary chief cannot be identified and a clan or family is without a chief there is a process – known as a family convention (gathering Ed.) – by which a commander may be appointed by the Lord Lyon to lead the clan or family. The Lord Lyon may appoint a commander, at the request of the clan or family. The purpose of the appointment of a commander is to allow time and space for the clan or family to raise its profile, build itself up, publicise itself and for a potential candidate to be hereditary chief to be identified. One of the principal responsibilities of a commander is to seek to identify any potential hereditary claimant to the chiefship. If it is not possible to identify a potential claimant who can prove descent from the chiefly line the commander should seek to encourage suitable candidates who may have wide support from at the clan or family to come forward as a candidate for the chiefship.
CARRUTHERS: Were genealogical proofs the legal requirement or did we need a gathering?
Accepting the uneducated claims that Carruthers never had a gathering, this is one of the few things that they (LLC/CCSI) have said that is in fact accurate.
We as a Scottish border clan/family and accepting that the Lord Lyon is part of the Scottish judiciary, adheering to Scots law was an important consideration.
The process to find the senior of our line to petition to become chief began seriously in 2007 and was led by Dr George CARRUTHERS of Fife. What followed was much hard and time consuming work and research, networking and sound advice from the then Lyon Clerk Mrs Elizabeth Roads. This genealogical journey took us from our origins in Dumfriesshire and with the help of the National Archives, we finally located the 4th great grandson of our last Chief: John Carruthers 12th of Holmains: Dr Simon Peter Carruthers, known as Peter.
As previosly stated, having chosen to follow to the letter the Scottish legal process and advice to have a chief recognised, solid documention and proofs were presented by Dr Peter Carruthers to the Lord Lyon in the form of a petition to bear the chiefly arms of Carruthers.
As Carruthers had an identified and proven candidate/petitioner for Chief dating back to beyond 1320, and as genealogy supercedes a derbfine, no gathering was required. However, the process of examining and analysing all documents and proofs presented to the Lord Lyon took nearly 2 years and 2 court hearings. For this reason, we as a family can guarantee that the judicial process and analysis was followed to the letter.
This eventually led, after over 200 years of our Chiefship lying dormant, that Dr (Simon) Peter CARRUTHERS of Holmains through the right to bear the Chiefly arms of Carruthers, was confirmed as hereditary Chief of the Name and Arms of CARRUTHERS by the Lord Lyon. Definately a proud and important historical moment for the Scottish border surname of CARRUTHERS and one we played a major part in.
TO SUMMARISE – When is a Scottish chief, simply not a chief?
There have been a few cases over the years of individuals making false claims of holding the title of chief of a Scottish clan or family. These charlatins are usually easily found out and have either been brought to task legally or simply ignored for what they are by all and any respectable society/group with links to Scotland, its history and its heritage.
To make it simple, if a person claiming to be a Scottish Clan Chief is not actually recognised as such by the Lord Lyon, they simply are claiming something they have no right to claim.
In respect of our own family, this sadly includes an individual residing in America by the name of Mr Pat E Carruthers. His claims of being Chief of the Scottish Border Clan CARRUTHERS, while wearing the Bruce tartan on occasions, are either self-imposed or have been imposed upon him by others (ie LLC/CCSI), both it seems to fulfill ego or an agenda. Outwith this reasoning and wherever one resides and in whatever jurisdiction they live, a lie remains a lie.
CARRUTHERS does of course have a legitimate and legally recognised chief as evidenced above, and it is definately not Mr Pat E Carruthers.
So again, be both aware and beware those infamous imitations!
SCOTTISH CLANS/FAMILIES WITH A RECOGNISED CHIEF, AS LISTED BY COSCA
NB. we are advised that in the case of the two very large clans of MacDonald and MacLeod, although more than one chief is listed, they are all of the same clan both having its own high chief. These are the only clans in Scotland to have this simply due to their size and history. The High Chief of Macdonald is the The Lord Macdonald of Macdonald and that of Mcleod is Hugh, Mcleod of Mcleod.
(Carruthers as a moderate sized border family has never had, nor does have any Chieftains recognised ed).
Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt.
Toby Anstruther of that Ilk
John MacArthur of that Ilk
Sir David Bannerman of Elsick Bt.
Peter Barclay of that Ilk
The Earl of Glasgow
Alexander Brodie of Brodie
Sir Wayne Broun of Colstoun Bt.
The Earl of Elgin & Kincardine K.T.
Michael Buchanan of that Ilk and Arnprior
James Burnett of Leys
Donald Cameron of Lochiel
His Grace The Duke of Argyll
Richard Carmichael of Carmichael
Dr Simon Peter Carruthers of Holmains
The Earl of Wemyss and March
John Mackintosh of Mackintosh
Hamish Chisholm of Chisholm
The Earl of Dundonald
Sir Malcolm Colquhoun of Luss Bt.
David Cranston of that Ilk
David Crichton of that Ilk
Robert Currie, Commander of the Name and Arms of Currie
The Earl of Stair
Michael Dewar of that Ilk
Viscount Strathallan (Heir)
Sir James Dunbar of Mochrum Bt.
David Dundas of Dundas
Andrew Maule Dewar Durie of Durie , CBE
Madam Margaret Eliott of Redheugh
The Earl of Mar And Kellie
Sir John McEwen Bt.
Captain Alwyne Farquharson of Invercauld
Malcolm, Lord Forbes
Alistair Forsyth of that ilk
The Lady Saltoun
The Marquess of Huntly
The Duke of Montrose
The Lord Strathspey
Iain Gunn of Gunn
Alexander Guthrie of Guthrie
Martin Haldane of Gleneagles
The Duke of Hamilton
Professor David Hannay of Kirkdale and of that Ilk
The Earl of Erroll
Alistair Henderson of Fordell
Sir Alexander Hope of Craighall Bt.
Madam Pauline Hunter of Hunterson
The Duke of Roxburghe
Alexander Irvine of Drum
Irving of Bonshaw
Rupert Irving of Bonshaw
Sir William Jardine of Applegirth Bt.
The Earl of Annandale And Hartfell
The Marquess of Ailsa
The Marquess of Lothian
Madam Arabella Kincaid of Kincaid
Father Peter Noel Lamont (rep George Burden)
Dr Jonathan Leask of that Ilk
The Hon. Alexander Leslie (representative)
Earl of Lindsay (Jamie) (representative)
Ranald Lockhart of The Lee
Gillem Lumsden of that Ilk
The Rt Hon. The Earl of Strathmore
MacDonald of Clanranald
The Captain of Clanranald
MacDonald of Glengarry
Ranald Macdonell of Glengarry
MacDonald of Keppoch
Ranald MacDonald of Keppoch
MacDonald of Macdonald
The Lord Macdonald of Macdonald
MacDonald of Sleat
Sir Ian Macdonald of Sleat Bt.
Morag MacDougall of MacDougall
Fergus Macdowall of Garthland
Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor Bt.
Duncan MacIntyre of Camus-na-h-Erie (Representative)
The Hon. Elizabeth Fairbairn
The Earl of Cromartie
John Mackintosh of Mackintosh
Euan Maclachlan of Maclachlan
Lorne Maclaine of Lochbuie
Donald MacLaren of MacLaren
Niall Livingstone of Bachuil, Baron the Bachuil
Major the Hon. Sir Lachlan MacLean of Duart and Morvern Bt.
Ruairidh MacLennan of MacLennan
MacLeod of the Lewes
Torquil Macleod of the Lewes
MacLeod of Raasay
John Macleod of Raasay
George MacMillan of MacMillan and Knap
Jamie Macnab of Macnab
Sir Malcolm Francis Macnaghten of MacNaghten Bt
John Macneacail of Macneacail & Scorrabreac
Roderick Macneil of Barra
The Hon. Sir William Macpherson of Cluny
Steven MacTavish of Dunardry
Andrew MacThomas of Finegand
The Earl of Lauderdale
Robin Malcolm of Poltalloch
The Countess of Mar
Andrew Marjoribanks of that Ilk
Major Sir Alexander Matheson of Matheson, Bt. (Sir Fergus recently passed away)
James McBain of McBain
Madam Jean Moffat of that Ilk
The Hon. Peregrine Moncreiffe of that Ilk
The Earl of Eglinton & Winton
Alasdair Morrison of Ruchdi
Hector Munro of Foulis
Lord Napier & Ettrick
Mark Nesbitt of that Ilk
The Earl of Airlie
Richard Oliphant of that Ilk
The Earl of Dalhousie
Sir Walter John Buchanan Riddell Bt
Gilbert Robertson of Struan
The Lord Rollo
David Rose of Kilravock
David Ross of Ross And Balnagowan
The Duke of Buccleuch KBE
Scott of Harden
The Earl of Dundee
The Lord Sempill
Shaw of Tordarroch
John Shaw of Tordarroch
The Earl of Caithness
Dugald Skene of Skene
Major Timothy Strange of Balcaskie
The Earl of Sutherland
Major Alexander Trotter of Mortonhall, CVO
Colonel Wilkins Urquhart of Urquhart
Andrew Wallace of that Ilk
Michael Wemyss of Wemyss