Two Chiefs, One Clan

Clan Crest auf Schottland Flag

Confusion arises with the term “Clan”

The clan system was unique to the highlands until the Heritable Jurisdictions Act of 1746 removed the feudal authority the Clan Chieftains had once enjoyed.

There is confusion because the term “clan” can also be used to describe a lowland family, despite them not having any Gaelic history nor living under the clan system. This is explained well by Wikipedia in their The Lowland Families section. Furthermore, not until the 19th century did the Lowland families identify themselves by specific tartans, or wear the kilt or play the Great Highland Pipes.

There is particular confusion in the case of the Frasers because the senior line, the Frasers of Philorth family, are lowlanders. As the 18th Lord Saltoun states, the Philorth Frasers “had nothing to do with the origin or formation of the Highland Clan, and never belonged to it”. Wikipedia sums it up well when they say “In other words, the Frasers of Philorth never belonged to the Gaelic, Highland Clan Fraser”.

“The Clan’s current chief is Simon Fraser, the 18th Lord Lovat, and 25th Chief of the Clan” as cited on Wikipedia. Lady Saltoun’s web site accurately explains this saying “The Frasers of Philorth, Lords Saltoun, being the senior line, are Chiefs of the name of Fraser, although a lowland family. Lord Lovat is Chief of the very numerous Highland Clan Fraser of Lovat, based in Inverness-shire.”

To conclude, confusion only arises when lowland families are described as Clans in the original, Gaelic, highland sense.

Texts of this page: 
In the original by: Clan Fraser of Lovat (status of the old website from 2018)