Scottish Clans, Septs & Surnames
The variety of surnames within a Scottish clan do not represent separate and definite sub-clans but instead reflect the changes of the Gaels into the English naming system as well as marriages, migrations and occupations. Thus the main family itself may have very well developed a variety of surnames (septs). The preferred modern usage is to avoid the use of the term (sept) and to simply describe these names as what they are – surnames of the family and of allied or dependent families. Today many prefer to speak of -The names and families of Clan X- rather to call a name -a sept of Clan X. Sept is actually a term borrowed from Irish culture in the nineteenth century to explain the use of a variety of surnames by members of a single clan. Where Scots would say -MacGregor and his clan- an Irish historian might say -O’Neill and his sept.
A complete list of Clan Septs and Family Surnames is an exhaustive task. Here is a partial list to get your started. One good source which can give a clue to clan associations is a book on tartans. Tartan for Me! by Philip D. Smith (Now on the Seventh Edition). This book gives an exhaustive list of tartans that are associated with surnames. By reading this book it may well give you a clue as to what clan your name is associated with. You may well find this book in your local library. We also feature the book in our book shopping mall and although it is marked as back ordered they may still be able to locate a copy for you.