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In the ‘System of Heraldry’, published in 1722 by Nisbet, the definition of a clan is this :

“A social group consisting of an aggregate of distinct erected families actually descended, or accepting themselves as descended of a common ancestor, and which has been received by the Sovereign through its Supreme Office of Honour, the Lord Lyon, as an honourable community whereof all of the members on establishing right to, or receiving fresh grants of, personal hereditary nobility will be awarded arms as determinate or indeterminate cadets both as may be of the chief family of the clan.”
In other words a clan is a family, or group of families, recognised by the sovereign and to whom a grant of heraldic Arms has been awarded by the Lord Lyon, Scotland’s principal Officer of Arms.

Heraldry, therefore, has always been of immense importance in the history of the Scottish Clans, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries, helping to express and uphold a chief’s noble standing and the loyalty of his people, and it continues to be of deep importance today.

Thus, over the centuries, the Lyon Register of Scotland has been tirelessly compiled to make it the most splendid and comprehensive record of heraldic Arms in the world.

Although a name may be a
sept of a larger clan it may well have a Coat of Arms in its own right. Check our Surnames List for your own family name.


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