What is the Difference:

Clan Society vs the Clan

What a Clan Society Does

Clans in the modern sense were hamstrung by the heritable jurisdiction act of 1746 which effectively ended Clan Chiefs from being a military, legal, or communal power outside of Landowner rights. The end of the Clan Era resulted in the elimination of financial power under chiefs.  In the late 19th and 20th centuries, interested individuals created societies to achieve a number of goals in fostering interest and preservation of the Clan. Many of these societies were aimed at identifying clan chiefs, preserving clan lands, documenting histories and fostering interest in clan and Scottish history. The Society supports the clan initiatives and facilitates the chief and chieftains in furthering the clan. While membership in a clan is not determined by society membership or participation, it is the participation in the society where the clan members can aid in growth of the clan. The society fosters the kinship feeling, while aiding in genealogy and archaeology initiatives. Joining the Clan Society strengthens the clan and preserves family history.

A Clan and what it does:

The term Clan, in the sense of a Scottish Clan, carries enormous historical and cultural background. Simple definitions, such as those in online “Wikipedia-style” Articles are both simplistic in nature and culturally biased against the original Gaels to whom the Scottish Clan system originated. In addition, Modern definitions defined by the Lyon Court are helpful, yet somewhat ignore the historical background behind.

The term Clan is derived from the term Clanna (Clown-na) which means children. This oft repeated line intimates a biological link. However, in Gaelic literature, the Terms Cinneadh or Fine are more often used which have come to mean tribe as opposed to a family.  Clearly, there is a kinship relationship that was implied in the past (Kin being a cognate albeit not the origin of the term Cinn).

In reality, Clans represented all those who held allegiance to, or lived in, the jurisdiction of chief. Over time, Clan boundaries changes although on modern maps they are shown by historical chartered documents to specific families. Residents tended to adopt the surname of the Chief to deal with living in an English speaking world.

In the Modern Era, Clans have come to identify a group of people with specific surnames or individuals who have a connection to a clan chief. (To read a great article about what is a Clan, click here.  Clan membership is therefore granted by being a part of the name, and sometimes being accepted as part of Society, in modern terms.

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