The Council of Scottish Armigerous Clans and Families



















Council Piper, Pipe Major David Waterton Anderson

Council Piper

Pipe Major David Waterton-Anderson


St Andrews Parade, Scotland

St. Andrews Parade





The Creation of The Council

The Council was formed with two primary aims: -

  To provide representation to the many “Chiefless” Scottish Armigerous clans and ancient families which are not currently represented by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.

To aid "chiefless" clans and families to obtain official recognition as Clans, through the election or appointment of a hereditary Chief, by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms of Scotland.

What is a recognised Scottish Clan?

A recognised Scottish Clan consists of the landed and armigerous families, their tenants, followers and those who bear the clan surname, or a connected surname. Each Clan is governed by a hereditary leader or Chief. Where the last known Chief has died without any known successor, or the Clan consists of a group of Scottish armigerous families, which collectively have never been afforded the status of a Clan, it is the Council’s view that it is the armigers of each Clan who are charged with obtaining recognition for the Clan. The armigers are the Clan elite, and after the Chief, are amongst its leading members. Although the armigers cannot act with the same authority as a recognised Clan Chief, they receive their authority from the same source as the Chief. Through a grant or confirmation of armorial bearings, from the Sovereign’s representative, the Lord Lyon, King of Arms of Scotland. It is the Council’s belief that it is the duty of the armigers of each “Chiefless” clan to represent their Clan until such time as a recognised Chief can be found and recognised by the Lord Lyon.

Why should we resurrect dormant Scottish Clans or establish ‘new clans’?

Since the virtual annihilation of the Scottish Clan System following the battle of Culloden in 1746, many Highland Clans have since lost their lands and the Chiefly line has died out. Due to the changes in social and economic conditions which have prevailed over the last two centuries, the Chiefly line of many great Scottish lowland and border families has also died out, leaving them leaderless.

In addition, many well deserving and ancient Scottish families, due to a number of reasons, have never had a Chief recognised by the Sovereign, through the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, and as such, have never been afforded the status of a Clan. The Council’s view is that certain Scottish family groups, should be able to petition the Lord Lyon and obtain the recognition of a hereditary Chief to preside over them.

That Scottish Clans have a recognised Chief is a matter of inordinate pride for all Clan members across the globe. To re-establish a Scottish Clan with a hereditary Chief, through the recognition of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms of Scotland, has the effect of restoring the Chief, and all within the clan, to a position of honour within the national and civic life of Scotland.

Why is there a need For the Council of Scottish Armigerous Clans and Families?

To re-establish a clan where the Chiefly line has died out is an extremely long and difficult process, often involving many years of hard work and with little guarantee of success. Clans where the Chiefly line has died out - so called dormant clans - can be re-established either by tracing the direct descendant of the last known Chief, or under guidelines issued by the Lord Lyon, the Clan can form a family convention to elect a new Chief. Carrying out the genealogical research required to trace the successor to a dormant chiefship, or finding sufficient numbers of qualified individuals to sit on a family convention, is an extremely time consuming, difficult and often costly process. The Council was established to provide representation; mutual support, advice and guidance to aid Clans complete, the often arduous process, of obtaining the recognition of a hereditary Chief.

Where name groups have never been afforded recognition as a Clan, through the confirmation of a Chief by the Lord Lyon, the situation is more challenging. Previous Lyon Court guidelines allowed for new Clans to be formed. The new Lyon Court guidelines, issued in July 2010, no longer allow for the creation of new clans. Where member clans have never had a recognised Chief historically, the Council will continue to make representations and lobby on behalf of its member Clans, to restore their rights to petition the Lord Lyon for the recognition of a hereditary Chief. The Council accepts that in recognising new clans, certain safeguards must be in place to preserve the dignity of Chiefship. However, not withstanding these safeguards, the process to obtain Clan recognition should not be unduly restrictive, as the Council believes that the recognition of new clans is essential for the continuation of the Scottish Clan system into the next century.



“A social group consisting of an aggregate of armigerous families who are actually descended, or accepting themselves as descendants of a common ancestor but where the group is not received by the Sovereign through its Supreme Officer of Honour, the Lord Lyon, as an honourable community, as for whatever reason, no living member has been confirmed by Lyon as possessing the undifferenced chiefly arms as head of the chief family of the entire group, and until such time as the undifferenced arms are confirmed on a member by Lyon, on establishing rights to, or receiving fresh grants of arms, all members will only be awarded new or cadenced arms, as collaterals to or cadets of, the heads of the individual armigerous families of the group”

Persons who are in lawful possession of armorial bearings granted or re-matriculated by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms of Scotland, or legitimately borne by courtesy right, under the Lord Lyon Act of 1672; and

The Family Convention (formerly the ad hoc derbhfine) process is a legal process, established by former Lord Lyon, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, around 1950, which is based on Celtic Law, and was originally to allow Clans where the Chiefly line had died out with no hope of a successor being found to elect a new Chief to resurrect their Clan. Also during the 1950s, the process became adopted by the Lyon Court to allow Clans which had never had a Chief and never had the status of a Clan, to elect a Chief and become recognised by Lyon. The process involves a meeting under the supervision of Lyon Court, of at least nine armigers or Scottish landowners to elect their Chief from amongst them. As at February 2010, the process is under review by the Lord Lyon and a decision on its future is due imminently.




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