As Natasha Aiken of London, England, has requested that she be provided with evidence of the Clan Akins historical existence as a clan in its own right, the following information has been gathered together for this purpose for the benifit of everyone who is interested in this subject. Should Ms. Aiken be able to provide actual documented evidence attaching the name of Akin/Aiken as a sept of the Gordon Clan, I am sure that other readers will find this of interest For the purposes of clarity, the following information will be grouped into two catagories, the first dealing with the legal defination of the term "Clan" as used in the context of ethnic Scottish culture; and the second dealing with the historical origins of the Clan Akins in Scotland and Ulster.
Part one: Defination of Clanship.
In Frank Adam's monumental book "The Clans, Septs & Regiments of the Scottish Highlands" we read: "This "most aristocratic of communities," however, was based in name and theory upon the family, for clan, that is, "children," is the Gaelic equivalent of "family"....The clan was a feature of Gaelic organisation that the Scots had brought with them from Ireland, although it may have already have existed in Scotland among the Picts....The historical truth (as again set forth in the Ardgour evidence, see Appendix XXX)is that the clan and family themselves were legally conceived as, and treated as, incorporeal feudalised fiefs. The "family" or "clan" is, however, always based on a fief, because to be an "honorable community" which has been "received into the noblesse" of the realm, it must, in the person of its "representer," have been granted or conferred, a "family seal of arms," and a coat of arms is a feudalised property, the family is an "incorporation," and all the scientific modern evidence concurs that "clan and family mean exactly the same thing" (Appendix XXX, Dr. Lachlan Maclean Watt).
Evidence of W. Mackay Mackenzie, LL.D. F.S.A., Secretary to the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments. Lyon Court, Case of MacLean of Ardgour vs. MacLean; 5 July 1938
(P.220) (Q.) In your view, what does the word "clan" mean? (A.) It has a general meaning of family, ordinary meaning of family, but there is a peculiar sense in which it is used for this quasi-feudal organisation in the Highlands, or you might say feudal organisation. (Q.) But its primary meaning, I think, is family? (A.) Yes. (Q.)In your view, did the clans in fact consist either of persons linked by blood or persons linked by reason of place of dwelling in a territory? (A.) That is the defination of the Act of Parliament. (Reference Acts 1587 & Act of 11 Sept, 1593 A.P.S., IV, p. 40) (Q.) Do you see a reference there to the pretence of blood or place of dwelling? (A.)Yes. (Q.)Are those familiar terms? (A.) Quite familiar. Pretence means claim....(Q.) So that in your view do you get this dual element entering into the composition of the clan, blood-relation and place of dwelling? (A.) Oh, yes, you have both.
Evidence of the Very Rev. Lachlan Maclean Watt, LL.D., Bard of the Clan MacLean Association: (P. 517) (Q.) (Referred to Mackenzie's "Works," II, 574, 618: (Q.)Do you deduce that Sir G. Mackenzie considered that from a heraldic point of view the "head of the clan" the "chief of the clan" or the "representer of the family" all meant the same thing? (A.) I respectfully suggest that it is a matter of "Head of a Family" and "Head of a Clan." He was a Highlander and he knew that clan means a family. Clan and family mean exactly the same thing."
Part Two: Historical origins of the Clan Akins
In his book "The Surnames of Scotland - Their Origin, Meaning, and History" George F. Black, Ph.D., tells us: "The use of fixed surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, though the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterward....at a general council held at Forfar in 1061 during the reign of Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) the latter directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions...Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial...Towns and villages and hamlets also gave distinctive appellation to several persons wholly unconnected by blood - to any one, in short, who left one of the towns or villages to reside elsewhere...Some of our local names have never travelled beyond the bounds of the place or places which gave them origin...Others again have spread over two or three adjoining parishes, and still others have wandered over the entire country...Many local surnames have been derived from places, the names of not a few of which have not survived...Many of these places were too small to be recorded on the map or have been altered....John of Akyne, a Scottish merchant, petitioned for the return of his ship and goods illegally seized in England in 1405...William Ackin was a witness in Brechin in 1476...George Aczin appears in Lanark in 1498...John Eckin was a tenant under the bishop of Aberdeen, 1511...John Ackyne was bailie of Stirling in 1520...Robert Aykkyne was admitted burgess of Aberdeen in 1539...Forms of these names are common in the Commissariot Record of Stirling, in the Edinburgh Marriage Record, and in the Records of the Sheriff Court of Aberdeenshire...and in Orkney it is believed to have replaced the Old Norse name Haakon and its derivative Hakonson."
In his "Dictionary of American Family Names", Elsdon C. Smith lists the names Akins and Akin as "Variants of Aiken...dweller near Akin, a strait in Scotland named after King Hakon of Norway" Likewise in their "Encyclopedia of American Family Names" H. Amanda Robb and Andrew Chesler arrive at the same conclusion stating of the names Akins and Akin "the name was given to those who were from the area near Akin, a strait in Scotland named for King Hakon of Norway". According to William and Mary Durning, authors of "The Scotch-Irish" the names Aiken, Akins, and Eakin came to Ireland from Scotland during the Ulster Plantation of the 1600's where they were transplanted to the Irish counties of Antrim, Monaghan, and Down respectively. In another work by the same authors, entitled "A Guide to Irish roots, they give a pedigree for the name which predates the 6th century colonization of Scotland by the Irish Scotti for whom the country was later named. In this genealogy they surmise that the name Akin is derived from the Irish O'Eakin [O'hOGAIN], a family which descends from the Irish Clann Tuirtre, itself a descendant of Fiach Tort, son of Colla Uais of the Clanns of Oirghialla which were comprised of the descendants of Eochaidh Dubhlein, son of Caibre Liffechar, son of Cormac Ulfhada and his wife Etaine, whose ancestry goes back another forty-nine generations in Ireland to its earliest mortal founders, the Milesians. Michael C. O'Laughlin, in his "The Master Book of Irish Surnames" lists a number of spelling variants including Aicken, Aiken, Aikin, Aikins, Aken, Eaken, Eakin, Eakins, Ekin, and Eykin, which are found in Ulster and are of Scots origin. Edward MacLysaght in his "Guide to Irish Surnames" likewise finds the name to be of Scottish origin, adding that "some families of O'Hagan are said to have changed their name to Aiken". According to 'The book of Ulster Surnames" by Robert Ball, in Ireland the name is "common only in Ulster, Aiken is of Scottish origin...The name was very common in the parish of Ballantrae in Ayrshire and many of our Aikens may stem from there. There are many variant spellings. It was recorded as being used interchangeably with Akins in Co. Monaghan, Eakins in Belfast, Eakin in counties Derry and Donegal, Ekin in Co. Donegal and Egan in Co. Down...In Co. Antrim where it is most popular, it was found to be most concentrated in the area northwest of Ballymena in the mid-ninteenth century." In a report furnished by the Hall of Names on the surname of Akins it is reported that "Few areas in Britain have produced as many notable families in world history...as the Border region of England and Scotland. The family name Akins is included in this group...The first record of the name Akins was found in Lanarkshire where they were seated from very ancient times at the old barony of Akyne in that shire...The family name Akins is believed to be descended originally from the Strathclyde Britons. This ancient founding race of the north were a mixture of Gaelic Celts whose original territories ranged from Lancashire in the south, northward to the south bank of the River Clyde in Scotland...In 1246, 6 Chiefs from the Scottish side and 6 from the English side met at Carlisle and produced a set of laws governing all of the border Clans...In 1603 the unified English and Scottish crowns under James I dispersed these "unruly border clans', clans which had served loyally in the defence of each side. The unification of the government was threatened and it was imperative that the old "border code" should be broken up. Hence the Border Clans were banished to England, northern Scotland and to Ireland. Some were outlawed directly to Ireland, the Colonies and the New World. Tracing its ancient development, the name Akins was found in Lanarkshire...William Aiken held lands in Glasgow in 1497, John Aiken was a Bailie of Stirling in 1520.
For further information on the Clan Akins, consult the Clan Akins Society's web-site at: http://www.angelfire.com/ar/clanakins/society.html Additional information is available in the Clan Akins Society's membership information booklet, and through the Society's quarterly newsletter, "The Clan Akins Journal" which carries genealogical reference material in the form of Scottish and Irish parish register records, immigration records, abstracts of court records, deeds, wills, marriage records, military service information etc., both in Scotland, Ireland and America for all spellings of the Clan name.