Grant Histories
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The Name Grant
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The Cherokee Connection
The DNA Project
The Septs

Fraser/Norman Critique I
Fraser/Norman Critique II

A Sept is much like a subdivision of a Clan. A Clan is analogous to a large, extended family and came into being for many reasons. It could have been due to divisions, sometimes violent, or it could have been a restless son wishing to settle elsewhere with the full blessing and support of the Clan and its Chief.

Septs are often, but by no means exclusively, identified by the prefix "Mac", meaning "son of". Thus MacKerran is the Sept formed by the son of Kerran, himself a Grant. In some cases, Septs rose to positions of power and dominance whilst the original Clan faded to nothing. There are many proud Clans in Scotland whose original Clan name is lost forever. Equally, a Sept might be called simply after its founder, as in the case of the Allan Sept, founded in the fourteenth century by Allan Grant. To further complicate things, Allan`s son followed in his father`s footsteps and went on to found the MacAllan Sept - yet it should be remembered that both Allan and his son were Grants.

Whilst much of this history is lost to us, the following names are considered by some to be Septs of Clan Grant:
Allan, Allen, Bisset(t), Bowie, Buie, Gilroy, MaccAllan, M(a)cgilroy, M(a)cIlroy, McKerran, M(a)cKiaran, M(a)cKessock, Pratt and Suttie.

Lord Strathspey issued the following announcement in 2005 - printed in Standfast Magazine, Summer 2005 and in Craigellachie (magazine of the Clan Grant Society of the USA), Fall 2005


The question of Septs has been a vexed one for a long time. What do we think that a sept actually is? What is the nature of its connection to the "parent" clan?

A few years ago George Way and Romilly Squire had to face these questions head-on when they wrote and edited the "Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopaedia": they chose a minimalist course: a name would only be recognised as a "sept" of another name if there was good positive evidence for it. Tradition, romanticism and wishful thinking would not be enough. Recent researches into Grant Clan history have confirmed the wisdom of the view these experts took and the recently instituted Clan Grant DNA project (and others) is adding further grist to the mill.

On the other hand we have the natural instinct, to be "inclusive" - not to turn anyone away who wishes to associate - and this seems particularly true over the pond in the Americas. Their experience is further complicated by other factors: (a) there has been a confusion between Scottish and Irish traditions and practices including, in some cases, situations where real Irish associations have been believed to be Scottish; (b) in some places, the clan surname was so prevalent that people used alternatives to identify themselves and each other. Thus we may refer to "Glenmoriston" knowing full well that his surname is Grant. But others hearing us might not know this and so may assume that is his surname.

The Bottom Line

Let us be clear that there is no name apart from Grant that can be wholly, uniquely and confidently associated only with the Grants. To this extent there are no septs per se at all - so there cannot be a list, however small of "Sept names" and no-one with a name other than Grant can claim an association with the Grants by virtue of their name alone.

The Good News

(a) On the other hand it is true that there have always been a significant number of people living in Grant territory and owing their allegiance to the Chief of Grant who nevertheless did not bear the name Grant. All these people and their descendants, irrespective of the name they bear, can lay claim to this association if they can prove it.

(b) In principle there is no restriction on who can be a member of any clan. In recent times both George Way and Romilly Squire - neither particularly Scottish by ancestry - chose (as it happens) to become members of the Clan MacMillan. Of course this was only possible with the agreement of the Chief of Macmillan. It was accomplished by the signing of a Bond of Mutual Assistance.

(c) None of this has any bearing at all on membership of the Clan Grant Societies.

The Way Forward

Lord Strathspey has decided that the best interests of the Clan are served most effectively by facilitating the regularising of the position of people who thought they were "sept" members through the use of such bonds. The bond is between the individual and the chief - so it is lasts as long as they both live, unless officially abrogated for good reason. Such has been the interest shown by those to whom the idea has been floated informally that bonds will be made available also (i) for those with no historic connection, but who wish to become members of the clan and (ii) to those Grants who wish to have their membership of the clan overtly endorsed in this way.

In olden times the specifics of the Bonds could be quite onerous. On the one hand the chief provided such Social Security / Welfare as there was. On the other hand the clansman had to pay his rent, work on the Chief`s land and turn out to fight at his command. These new bonds, however, will be fitted for the 21st Century.

For the would-be clansman it should be appreciated that one requirement, for example, will be a basic knowledge and understanding of Clan History and Lore. Other requirements have yet to be decided - but they will be made clear in due course. Regarding the details of the "Letters Patent" of the Bond, it is envisaged that the crest will be there, the bond will be signed by both parties and it is intended that a seal will be applied. In the case of "sept" members, it is expected that the nature of the claim of historic association will be specified (and will have had to be demonstrated, of course).

[Other details - of the wording, the style etc. on the letters patent of the bond - have also yet to be finalised - and in any case each one will be unique to the particular circumstance. Despite this fluid state of thinking, it is considered useful to give non-Grant clansmen and would-be clansmen now the assurance that their position will be fully regularised just as soon as possible and that there is no intention to be in any way arbitrarily exclusive.]

Recognised Septs

Currently these are the Sept families which have had their status formally recognised by the Chief.
The Mores of Drumcork were recognised by Sir Patrick, the late Chief.
The Allans of Rhynagairn were recognised in 2008 by Sir James, our current chief.
The Siol Lewis - Cherokee descendants of Ludovick Grant, younger of Crichie (none of whom bear the surname Grant) have now been recognised officially (since the International Gathering in 2010).
The Siol Cudbright - M├ętis descendants of Cuthbert Grant sr. of Cromdale.

Further Advice

A huge amount of background work on Sept families has been undertaken by Hank Grant of our sister society in the USA who has collated information from gravestones, OPRs etc. Would-be Grant Sept families may well find it advisable to have recourse in the first instance to this fund of knowledge in pursuit of the proof of their claim. Otherwise please email info to us using our contact form quoting your Clan Society membership number and providing all the detail you have amassed so far.

The Clan Grant Centre Trust