Finding Your Scottish Clan

A question that we often get asked is “what Clan do I belong to?” To help answer this, we’ve put together this Clan Finder to help you trace your name to the Clan you belong to, show you your crest and clan history.

What is a Clan?

In Scotland, the Clan system is made up of clans, armigerous families and septs. Historically, clans held a particular territory in Scotland and followed a clan chief who provided protection over those affiliated to them. Clans often have a clan chief, a crest and a tartan. Those clans that do not have a current clan chief are known as armigerous families.

What is a Sept?

The make-up of a clan includes people who hold the same name as the chief (or clan name) and also other allied families, bound by blood and allegiance to the chief. These are known as septs. Historically, these families were under the protection of the chief and lived within the clan territory as full members of the clan.

What is difference between the Clan Crest and a family Coat of Arms?

A coat-of-arms is a form of heraldry that has been granted to an individual person, or their direct descendants and is only relevant to that person. This is not something that is shared by everyone that shares that name. In Scottish heraldry, the chief has a coat-of-arms that is granted by the Court of the Lord Lyon in Scotland for their own use. Clan members are entitled to wear the crest, which is an element of that coat of arms and also use the Clan motto. In general, the coats-of-arms that are held out to be for a particular family are incorrect and only mean that someone with the same name has had a coat-of-arms granted to them personally.


Can’t find your name?

There could be a few reasons for that. Firstly, not all Scottish names are affiliated with clans. Secondly, it may be that the name is of a smaller clan or armigerous family that we do not have in our database. Don’t worry, if your name doesn’t belong to a clan it doesn’t mean you don’t have Scottish ancestry.  Maybe try some different names from your genealogy as well.