Explaining the Facts About Clans and Septs

The Court of The Lord Lyon Clarifies Sept and Clan Issues

The Lyon Court answers the question of "who is a member of a clan?" with the statement:

"Every person who has the same surname as the chief is deemed to be a member of the clan."

This means that if you or an ancestor has the last name Bell or one or the various spellings of Bell, you are deemed by the Lyon Court to be a member of Clan Bell. Some confusion has been created by a few clans who claim many family names as "septs" of their clan. The Lyon Court clears up the issues on septs by stating:

"There is no official list of recognised septs. This is a matter for each chief to determine. But where a particular sept has traditionally been associated with a particular clan it would not be appropriate for that name to be treated by another clan chief as one of its septs."

Lists of septs include whatever families a clan chief wants to add, so the Lyon Court found it necessary to point out that it is not appropriate for clan chiefs to claim septs that were already a sept to another clan.
Even though Clan Bell is recognized as a clan by the Lyon Court and has a long history as an independent clan, some other clans try to claim Bell as a sept of their clan.
Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt., an officer of the Lyon Court, noted that

"It should also be said that the various Sept lists, which are published in the various Clans and Tartan books, have no official authority. They merely represent some person's, (usually in the Victorian eras) views of which name groups were in a particular clan's territory."

Do not let others' claims and confusion keep you from your rich heritage as a member of Clan Bell.

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