Chief of Clan Maclean in Maritimes

By Ian MacLean, President, Clan Maclean Atlantic

Reprinted courtesy of "Celtic Heritage"

Sir Lachlan Maclean of Duart and Morvern, 28th Chief of Clan Maclean, arrives in Nova Scotia on June 27th. This is his first visit to the Maritimes, although his father Sir Charles Maclean visited his clansfolk here for the Gaelic Mod in 1950. The Chief will have a very busy schedule as he will be visiting Prince Edward Island, Fredericton - New Brunswick, and several sites in Nova Scotia. Sir Lachlan will attend numerous Scottish events including the Summerside and Halifax Highland Games, the Pugwash Gathering of the Clans, the Nova Scotia Tattoo, a reception co-hosted by the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Scottish Cultural Association, as well as a series of "Meet and Greet" opportunities. His clearly stated purpose is to meet as many Macleans (regardless of spelling) and Maclean sept members as possible.

Historically the term "sept" essentially meant families who were connected through lineage, or smaller clans who joined a larger clan for military protection and economic security. Common septs of Clan Maclean found in the Atlantic provinces include names such as: Beatons, Blacks, Gillans, Leans, MacBeths, MacCormicks, MacCrackens, MacFaydens, MacGillivarys (from Mull or Morvern), MacVeaghs, Pattons, and Rankins, (Also Mc versions, or differently spelled versions of any of the above, remember our ancestors were often illiterate Gaelic speakers so the spelling of the name was not carved in stone!)

The Chief's Schedule (as well as a complete list of Maclean septs) can be found at the Clan MacLean Atlantic website, and/or at the Federation of Scottish Clans In Nova Scotia site, Information will also be available in the local media.

Sir Lachlan takes his duties as Chief of Clan Maclean seriously. Nonetheless he is a very approachable man who enjoys nothing more than chatting with clansfolk. He and his wife, Lady Mary, devote a good deal of their lives to supporting clan activities, and in maintaining Duart Castle, - the ancestral home of Clan Maclean, on the Isle of Mull, in Scotland. Duart, while open to the public is particularly welcoming to members of our clan, - as I can attest from experience.

The Chief is a Baronet of Nova Scotia, a hereditary title, originally granted in 1632. In fact this is one of the reasons he was interested in visiting. He believes that he has a moral/ethical obligation to try to maintain contact with Macleans who emigrated to this part of Canada. Obviously this is one of the earliest places such immigration occurred.

Sir Lachlan sees an increase in interest and relevance, for clans and clan associations. He believes that our increasingly mobile society , with people moving not just from village to city, but continent to continent, leaves people feeling rootless. Many of us desire to "belong", and to remain, or become, more connected to our heritage. Clan Maclean Associations thus have a responsibility to nurture Maclean history, Scots Highland culture, as well as to assist people to pursue their genealogical and geographical roots. Sir Lachlan sees this facet of Clan activity as one that will continue to grow.

He feels that his role as Chief should be a modern version of the traditional role of Clan Chief. Scots clans were surprisingly democratic in historical times. Of course there was no electoral system. However the belief was that all clan members were family and that they had a right to express their opinion to their Chief. In fact Chiefs were expected to heed advisors, and listen, - even to more "lowly" members of the clan. Sir Lachlan emphasized to me that he consistently follows this tradition by encouraging the "grassroots" to be active members in Clan Associations.

In the past Chiefs were not necessarily the oldest son of the previous Chief. A system, called tanistry meant that the new Chief could be selected by the senior members of the clan from the current (or past) Chief's family. In later years the system became more like English nobility where the "title" goes to the oldest son.

Sir Lachlan knows that he has a ongoing role as the symbolic head of the clan, but he also feels he has a duty to foster highland cultural traditions, encourage and support clan associations, clan history, the clan branches and septs, as well as to perform an ongoing leadership role.Increasingly he tries to assist individuals to find out about their own genealogical background.

As mentioned he sees the Macleans as being particularly lucky to have Duart, the ancient seat of clan Maclean, which was restored by his great grandfather in 1914. For those of you who saw the movie "Entrapment", this was the castle featured. Interestingly Sir Sean Connery, one of the stars in the movie, has a Maclean connection, - his mother! Duart can and does function as the ancestral and spiritual home for all Macleans. In fact a young Canadian couple were married on the ramparts last June, when they were on Mull for the Clan Maclean International Gathering. Most clans are not so fortunate as many clan castles have long since become ruins, or are no longer under clan ownership.

There are a number of Maclean associations worldwide, including a francophone association in Quebec, one in Toronto, and a very active Clan Maclean Atlantic. There are 11 other associations in the US, Australia, New Zealand, France, England and of course Scotland. There is even a "net" association that is the envy of other Clans, as it encourages worldwide communication.

Clan Maclean Atlantic would like to invite as many of you as possible who have Maclean connections, - however tenuous, to find time to meet Sir Lachlan.

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