Scottish clans are a staple of Scottish culture and a critical step in identifying a person's Scottish ancestry. Not every person who bears a particular surname is related to the respective clan, but the shared identity of each has been influential in shaping Scottish geography. The modern idea of clans originates in the early 19th century as the Highlands were increasingly romanticized in literature. Historically, kin groups with close relatives formed local communities who over the years began adopting similar surnames and the clan system developed. As clans grew in number and influence, many began forming alliances with their neighbors, or rivalries began over land and personal property. Following the Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden, the clan system was officially abolished in 1745 with a series of harsh laws. By the mid-1800s, romantic memory about the Scottish Highlands saw the resurgence of clan mythology and history.
Today there are hundred of Scottish clan organizations with thousands of members worldwide. Many of them have websites you can visit and if you travel to Highland games and festivals, clan tents are always a permanent fixture. Clan representatives and ambassadors travel the country finding new members and educating the public about their respective clans. Some of our own below to such groups and even hold high offices as well!
If you have questions about a specific Scottish clan or want to learn more about the clan system, message us on our Contact page or click on the regional clan resource links below!
Clan of the Month:
|Plant badge||Scots fir or cranberry|
|Clan MacAulay has no chief, and is an armigerous clan|
|The Laird of Ardincaple|
|Historic seat||Ardencaple Castle|
|Last Chief||Aulay MacAulay|
Clan MacAulay (Scottish Gaelic Clann Amhlaoibh), also spelt Macaulay or Macauley is a Scottish Clan. The clan was historically centered on the lands of Ardincaple, which are today consumed by the little village of Rhu and burgh of Helensburgh in Argyle and Bute. The MacAulays of Ardincaple were located mainly in the traditional county of Dunbartonshire which straddles the "Highland Line" between the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. Clan MacAulay has been considered a "Highland clan" by writers and has been linked by various historians to the original Earls of Lennox and in later times to Clan Gregor. The MacAulays of Ardincaple, like Clan Gregor and several other clans, have traditionally been considered one of the seven clans which make up Siol Alpin. This group of clans were said to have claimed descent from Cináed mac Ailpín, King of the Pics from whom later kings of Scotland traced their descent. The chiefs of Clan MacAulay were styled Laird of Ardincaple.
Clan MacAulay dates, with certainty, to the 16th century. The clan was engaged in several feuds with neighboring clans. However, the clan's fortunes declined in the 17th and 18th centuries. After the decline and fall of Clan MacAulay, which ended with the death of Aulay MacAulay in the mid-18th century, the clan became dormant. With the revival of interest in Scottish clans in the 20th century a movement was organized to revive Clan MacAulay. The modern organization strove to unite the three unrelated groups of MacAulays, and all who bore the surname MacAulay, under one clan and chief. In 2002, the clan appointed a potential chief of Clan MacAulay, but his petition for formal recognition was denied by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The Lord Lyon ruled that the petitioner did not meet two criteria: anyone without a blood link to a past chief must be Clan Commander for ten years before being considered for recognition, and that the chiefship in question was of the MacAulays of Ardincaple and not of all MacAulays. To date, Clan MacAulay does not have a chief recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, and therefore can be considered an Armigerous clan.
There are many different families of MacAulays from both Ireland and Scotland which are not related and are considered to have no historical connection with Clan MacAulay. These include the Scottish Macaulays from the Western Isles (the MacAuleys of Lewis and possibly the MacAulays of Uist). Irish families of MacAulays with no connection with Clan MacAulay are the McAuleys of Co Offaly and Co Westmeath, the McAuleys in Ulster (Co Fermanagh), and the "MacAuleys of the Glens" (Co Antrim). The "MacAuleys of the Glens", however, have been thought to have been originally Scottish.
During the 15th and 15th centuries in west Dumbartonshire, the clans MacFarlane, MacAulay, and Colquhoun raided and plundered each other's lands and combined to sweep the lowlands of its flocks and herds. Other clans—among them the MacGregors, Campbells, Camerons and Buchanans—invaded the district later. In July 1567, after Mary, Queen of Scots, was forced to abdicate the Scottish throne in favor of her infant son, James, Walter MacAulay of Ardincaple was one of the signators of the bond to protect the young prince. "The Laird of M'Cawla of Ardincaple" appears in the General Band of 1587 as a principal vassal of the Duke of Lennox. In 1594, the "M'Cawlis" appear in the Roll of Broken Clans.
MacAulay of Ardincaple
(per Stodart, undated, not registered at Lyon Court)
MacAulay of Ardincaple
(per Burke, undated, not registered at Lyon Court)
Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay
(not registered at Lyon Court)
Clan Anderson is a Scottish clan that is recognized as such by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. However, as the clan does not currently have a chief recognized by the Court of the Lord Lyon, it is therefore considered an armigerous clan. Variations of the surname are however considered septs of several other clans of the Scottish Highlands: The surname MacAndrews is considered a sept of the Clan Mackintosh and Clan Chattan, and also associated with the Clan MacDonell of Glengarry. The surnames Andrew and Andrews are considered septs of the Clan Ross.
Local Contact: Pam Davis Wayne_and_Pam@yahoo.com
Clan Buchanan is a Highlands Scottish Clan whose origins are said to lie in the 1225 grant of lands on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond to clergyman Sir Absalon of Buchanan by the Earl of Lennox.
Local Contact: Danny McMurphy email@example.com
Clan Campbell is a Highland Scottish clan. Historically one of the largest and most powerful of the Highland clans, their lands were in Argyll and the chief of the clan became the Earl and later Duke of Argyll.
Local Contact: Jeff Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org:
Local Contact: James Campbell email@example.com
Clan Carruthers is a Lowland Scottish clan of the Scottish Borders headed by their Chief, Simon Peter Carruthers of Holmains and is recognised as such by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. A Clan Chief of Carruthers was confirmed after over 12 years of research and investigation by the official representatives of Carruthers internationally; Clan Carruthers Society International.
Local Contact: Jeanne Abert firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan Cochrane is a Lowland Scottish clan. Traditionally the original ancestor of the Clan Cochrane in Scotland was a Scandinavian Viking who settled in what is now known as Renfrewshire between the eighth and tenth centuries.
Local Contact: Cathy Rave email@example.com
Clan Colquhoun is a Scottish clan.
Local Contact: Kara Whittaker kara@clancolquhourn,com
Clan Davidson is a Highland Scottish clan and a member of the Chattan Confederation.
Local Contact: Wayne Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan Donald USA
Home of the MacDonalds
Clan Donald is the oldest, largest, and most famous of the Scottish clans. Its Celtic heritage goes back into antiquity, beyond the six century AD to the great clans of Conn and Colla in what is today Ireland. Our ancestors were regarded as the heads of the ancient race of Conn and the lineal heirs of the kings of the Dalriadic Scots.
Clan Donald begins its recorded history with Somerled. In 1156, Somerled defeated the Norse King of Man, who had occupied the western isles and large portions of the Scottish mainland. He thus secured independence for the Celtic people who lived there. This independence lasted for over four centuries.
Somerled became known as “Rex Insularum” or “King of the Isles.” Over time, this title evolved to “Lord of the Isles.” Somerled’s genius at both land and naval warfare gave rise to the clan motto, “Per Mare Per Terras,” which means “By Sea By Land. Clan Donald takes its name from Donald, the grandson of Somerled. In Gaelic “Mac” means “son of.”
Over the centuries, the power of the Lord of the Isles grew and it brought them into conflict with the English and Scottish kings, and with other powerful clans\
In 1493, King James IV of Scotland declared the Lordship of the Isles forfeit to the crown and this ended the long reign of the Clan Donald chiefs. The Macdonalds remained powerful and important in the Highlands, but the six major branches of the clan were no longer unified as under the Lord of the Isles. When James VI of Scotland, who held the title of Lord of the Isles, became James the I of England, the title went with him.
After the battle of Culloden in 1746, the clan way of life was destroyed and massive migrations began that sent Macdonalds’ all over the world.
Clan Donald U. S. A., Inc. is a family organization embracing the MacDonalds’ and all of the other surnames that are recognized as septs, branches, or adherents of the greatest of the Highland clans. Clan Donald is different than other clans in Scotland and the United States in that the clan is viewed as an extension of the Clan Donald in Scotland.
Clan Donald U.S.A. began in 1956 when the then Lord Macdonald asked Reginald H. Macdonald of Kingsburgh O.B.E., the great, great grandson of Flora Macdonald, to become the first High Commissioner in the United States. The clan was incorporated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that same year.
Missouri Contact: Heidi Campbell, MO Deputy Commissioner, email@example.com
Illinois Contacts: Craig Macdonald, IL Commissioner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jann MacDonald, IL Conveener email@example.com
Clan Douglas is an ancient clan or noble house from the Scottish Lowlands. Taking their name from Douglas in Lanarkshire, their leaders gained vast territories throughout the Borders, Angus, Lothian, Moray, and also in France and Sweden. The family is one of the most ennobled in the United Kingdom and has held numerous titles.
Local Contact: Tim Kirkpatrick firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Contact: Harold Edington email@example.com
Clan Eliott is a Border Reiver Scottish clan.
Local Contact: Donna Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan Ferguson is a Scottish clan. Known as the Sons of Fergus they have spread across Scotland from as far as Ross-shire in the north to Dumfriesshire in the south.
Local Contact: Stephan Butler Steveb63116@prodigy.net
Local Contact: Millie Slack email@example.com
Clan Galbreith is a Scottish clan. The clan does not have a chief recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Because of this, the clan is consi dered an armigerous clan, and as such Clan Galbraith has no standing under Scots Law.
Local Contact: Paul B. Galbraith 2020clangalbraithpresident@gmail..com
Clan Gregor is a Highland Scottish clan that claims an origin in the early 800s
through descent from King Kenneth Alpin who united the Picts and Scots. More recently and after centuries of war, rebellion, proscription and the abolishment of the clan system after Culloden, Sir Evan John MacGregor Chief of Clan Gregor founded The Clan Gregor Society in 1822. This was the third Scottish clan society formed after the abolishment was lifted. The American Clan Gregor Society (ACGS) was founded in 1909 with the advice and assistance of the 22nd Chief of Clan Gregor, our current chief’s grandfather. Since its founding, each Chief of Clan Gregor has designated ACGS as the official representative of the Chief in America. Our bylaws state that the object of ACGS is:
1. To gather kindred together in clanship.
2. To promote, foster and collect patriotic, historical and genealogical records
for compilation, publication and addition to the history of the American
descendants of the Clan Gregor of Scotland.
3. To aid descendants within the Clan.
Clan Gregor’s most famous member is Rob Roy MacGregor of the late 17th and early 18th centuries who was immortalized by the writings of Sir Walter Scott. The Clan is also known to have been among the first families of Scotland to begin playing the bagpipes in the early 17th century.
Please visit our website ( acgsus.org ) and our Facebook page (American Clan
Gregor Society, Inc)
Local Contact: Jeanne Peter Lehr firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan Gordon, also known as the House of Gordon, is a Scottish clan. The chief of the clan is the powerful Earl of Huntly, and now also the Marquess of Huntly. During the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 13th century, the Gordons supported William Wallace in the cause of independence. In the 15th century, the chiefship of the clan passed to an heiress, who married into the Seton family and her male descendants assumed the surname Gordon and continued as chiefs of the clan. The Gordons assisted in defeating the rebellion of the Earl of Douglas also in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the Gordons as Catholics feuded with their Protestant neighbors the Clan Forbes and also defeated at the Battle of Glenlivet, the Protestant Earl of Argyll. During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms of the 17th century, the Gordons supported the Royalist cause. During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the Clan Gordon was Jacobite. During the Jacobite rising of 1745, their chief, then the Duke of Gordon, pledged his support to the British-Hanoverian Government, but his clan remained Jacobite.
Local Contact: Kim William Gordon email@example.com
The Clan Henderson is a Scottish clan. The clan's historical seat is at Fordell Castle in Dalgety Bay, Fife. The current clan chief is Alistair Henderson of Fordell.
Local Contact: Charm Russell firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hunters were hereditary keepers of the royal forests of Arran and Little Cumbrae from an early date, and despite being heavily involved with the military in the 16th century, they were known primarily for being landowners who treated their tenants well. The Hunter clan motto is "Cursum perficio" (I have completed the course) and the clan crest is a hound with an antique crown.
Local Contact: John Hunter email@example.com
Clan Logan is a Scottish clan. Two distinct branches of Clan Logan exist: the Highland branch; and the Lowland branch. The clan does not have a chief recognised by Lord Lyon King of Arms, and therefore can be considered an armigerous clan. Today, some regard Clan MacLennan as a variant of the Highland Logan clan.
Local Contact: Charles Logan firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan MacAulay, also spelt Macaulay or Macauley is a Scottish clan. The clan was historically centred on the lands of Ardincaple, which are today consumed by the little village of Rhu and burgh of Helensburgh in Argyll and Bute. The MacAulays of Ardincaple were located mainly in the traditional county of Dunbartonshire, which straddles the "Highland Line" between the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. Clan MacAulay has been considered a "Highland clan" by writers and has been linked by various historians to the original Earls of Lennox and in later times to Clan Gregor. The MacAulays of Ardincaple, like Clan Gregor and several other clans, have traditionally been considered one of the seven clans which make up Siol Alpin. This group of clans were said to have claimed descent from Cináed mac Ailpín, King of the Picts, from whom later kings of Scotland traced their descent. The chiefs of Clan MacAulay were styled Laird of Ardincaple.
Local Contact: Bob MacAuley email@example.com
Local Contact: Mike MacAuley firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan MacFarlane is a Highland Scottish clan. The clan derived from the Earl of Lennox about 1395. The MacFarlanes occupied the land forming the western shore of Loch Lomond from Tarbet up-wards. From Loch Sloy, a small sheet of water near the foot of Ben Vorlich, they took their war cry of Loch Slòigh. Loch Sloy was where the Clan hid its stolen cattle, and they were so good at cattle rustling that the full moon came to be called "MacFarlane's Lantern." Sir Walter Scott wrote about this fact, and to this day Scottish television weather forecasters sometimes announce a full moon as a "MacFarlane's Moon."
Local Contact: Eric Funkhouser email@example.com
Local Contact: Bill Hamrick firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan MacIntyre is a Highland Scottish clan. The name MacIntyre, means "son of the carpenter" Although no documented history of the clan exists, it is most commonly said to descend from Maurice Mac Neil a nephew of Somerled, the great 12th century leader of the Scottish Gaels. Through an ingenious strategy, Maurice secured the marriage of Somerled to the daughter of the King of Mann and the Isles, thus greatly increasing Somerled's territories. At an unknown date the clan journeyed from the Hebrides to the Scottish mainland where the chiefs established their home at Glen Noe, in Ardchattan Parish, on the east side of Loch Etive.
Local Contact: Loretta McIntire Kelly email@example.com
Clan MacLeod is a Highland Scottish clan associated with the Isle of Skye. There are two main branches of the clan: the MacLeods of Harris and Dunvegan, whose chief is MacLeod of MacLeod, are known in Gaelic as Sìol Tormoid; the Clan MacLeod of Lewis and Raasay, whose chief is MacLeod of The Lewes, are known in Gaelic as Sìol Torcaill. Both branches claim descent from Leòd, who lived in the 13th century.
Local Contact: Ian Good firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronnie McLeod email@example.com
Clan Maxwell is a Lowland Scottish clan and is recognized as such by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. However, as the clan does not currently have a chief, it is considered an armigerous clan.
Local Contact: William Rave firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan MacLaren is an ancient Highland Clan that has occupied lands in Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, and around Strathearn since the 12th Century: signed the Ragman's Roll in 1296. The ancient rallying place of the Clan is Creag an Tuirc (The Boars Rock) and is located on a hill overlooking the Balquhidder Kirkyard. The MacLarens had strong ties to the Stewarts of Appin and have been involved in many battles over the centuries: for example, the Clan fought for David I of Scotland in 1138, were a force at Flodden in 1513,
and lost many men with the Jacobites at Culloden, in 1746.
There are over 14 different MacLaren tartans, 30 Septs in the Clan, and over 60 different spellings of the name. The current Clan Chief is Donald MacLaren of MacLaren and Achleskine.
Clan MacLaren Society (Scotland) brings together members and friends from around the world, helps continue the traditions, and fosters kinship.
Clan MacLaren Society of North America (CMSNA) is a Scottish Family society promoting the history, arts, and tradition of Scotland and of Clan MacLaren.
Local contact: Jim McLaren email@example.com
Clan Moffat is a Lowland Scottish clan of ancient origin. The clan was leaderless and obscure from the mid 16th century until 1983, when Francis Moffat of that Ilk was recognised as the hereditary chief of the clan by Lord Lyon King of Arms.
Local Contact: Larry Moffet LawrenceMoffet@gmail.com
Clan Moncreiffe is a Highland Scottish clan. The name Moncreiffe comes from the feudal barony of Moncreiffe in Perthshire. The lands of Moncreiffe take their name from the Monadh croibhe which is Scottish Gaelic for Hill of the sacred bough. The plant badge of the clan is the oak and this presumably comes from the sacred tree.
Local Contact: Greg Moncrief firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan Montgomery is a Lowland Scottish clan.
Local Contact: Kenneth Vardeman email@example.com
Clan Scott is a Scottish clan and is recognised as such by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Historically the clan was based in the Scottish Borders.
Local Contact: Anita Scott-Philbrick firstname.lastname@example.org
Clan Sinclair is a Highland Scottish clan who held lands in Caithness, the Orkney Islands, and the Lothians. The chiefs of the clan were the Barons of Roslin and later the Earls of Orkney and Earls of Caithness. The Sinclairs are believed to have come from Normandy to England during the Norman conquest of England, before arriving in Scotland in the 11th century. The Sinclairs supported the Scottish Crown during the Scottish–Norwegian War and the Wars of Scottish Independence. The chiefs were originally Barons of Roslin, Midlothian and William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness and Baron of Roslin founded the famous Rosslyn Chapel in the 15th century. He split the family lands, disinheriting his eldest son from his first marriage, William, who later became the second Lord Sinclair, instead giving the lands of Caithness to the second son from his second marriage, William Sinclair, 2nd Earl of Caithness, in 1476, and the lands at Roslin to his eldest son from his second marriage, Sir Oliver Sinclair. In the 16th century the Sinclairs fought against England during the Anglo-Scottish Wars and also feuded with their neighbors the Clan Sutherland. During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the Sinclairs supported the Jacobite cause, but during the Jacobite rising of 1745, while the clan largely had Jacobite sympathies, their chief, the Earl of Caithness, supported the British-Hanoverian Government. The current chief is Malcolm Sinclair, 20th Earl of Caithness.
Local Contact: Scott Sinclair email@example.com
Clan Stewart is a Scottish Highland and Lowland clan. The clan is recognized by Court of the Lord Lyon; however, it does not have a Clan Chief recognized by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Because the clan has no chief it can be considered an armigerous clan; however, the Earls of Galloway are now considered to be the principal branch of this clan, and the crest and motto of The Earls of Galloway's arms are used in the Clan Stewart crest badge. The Court of the Lord Lyon recognizes two other Stewart/Stuart clans, Clan Stuart of Bute and Clan Stewart of Appin. Clan Stuart of Bute is the only one of the three clans at present which has a recognized chief.
Local Contact: Duane Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org
The Thom(p)sons were one of the Reiving families of the lawless Anglo-Scottish borderlands. For the best part of 300 years, the Border Reivers raided on both sides of the border from Dumfriesshire to the high wastes of east Cumbria, from Roxburghshire to Redesdale, and from the lonely valley of Liddesdale, to the fortress city of Carlisle and east to Edinburgh.
Local Contact: Allan Thompson email@example.com
Clan Turnbull is an armigerous Scottish clan.
Local Contact: Keith Turnbull firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Contact: Therese Turnbull email@example.com
Clans from Virtual Burns
COSCA's primary purpose is to preserve and promote the customs, traditions, and heritage of the Scottish people. We strive to do this by educating the public about Scottish history, literature, poetry, art, and culture. Here you can find information on Scottish clans, upcoming events, association calendar, articles and blog posts, and ways to donate to the association.
The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs is the definitive and authoritative body for information on the Scottish clan system. Here you can search for the most current information on clan news, blog posts and articles from members, a directory for clan contacts, and other relevant content.