THE SCOTTISH CLAN SYSTEM
It is generally accepted that in pre-Roman times Scotland was inhabited by a people who were mainly Celtic.After the departure of the Romans, there were five races settled in Scotland; the Picts whose origin is uncertain; the Scots who arrived in the sixth century; the Britions; the Attocotti and lastly the Saxons.A sixth race was introduced in the eight century by the "Sea Raiders", the Norse and Danes.
The development of the Clan system may date from King Malcom in the eleventh century and was the melding of those earlier tribal and encroaching feudal systems.With the tribes broken up due to national unity, what quickly developed were districts being principally governed by the heads of family Names or clanships that retained tribal customs.Clans consisted generally of "native men" who were related to the Chief and each other by blood ties and "broken men", or individuals or groups from other clans who sought and obtained protection.
The Clan system endured for over six hundred years and ended on the afternoon of April 16th 1746 on Culloden Moor.However, its traditions carry on with renewed interest as we near the end of the 20th century.
There can be no doubt that the Clan system was admirably suited to the circumstances of the times in which it originated and during the time it existed.It was an ideal system in so far as it recognized that land, the basis of life, was not an individual possession, but belonged to the people in common, and that each clansman was in duty bound to assist other members of the clan in time of necessity of any kind, irrespective of rank.
In to many countries the great historic families are separated from the mass of the people, but Scotland, the pride of Name has never depended on wealth or rank and in that the clan tradition has always prevented barriers from arising to divide a proud people.
It is this brotherhood within clan or Name, be it from the highlands, isles, lowlands or boarders which link all Scots together and is so marked a feature of Scots wherever they may be.
ARTHUR DOUGLAS,Regent of New York, Co-Regent of New England
Reprinted from CLAN DOUGLAS SOCIETY NOTES