Here, here, Joseph, regarding the ad hoc derbfine. Truly puzzling. But I guess it satisfies those with an eye to creating their own clan (as you say) from one that never truly existed historically, or not in the way we mean clan today. Why it should matter to them, I don’t know, but as one who has recently had to stop the addition of "fake clans" to the list of Scottish Clans on Wikipedia, I know the desire is certainly out there, and quite strong among some!
(Just wanted to also give a tip-o’-the-hat to Mike for his comment about Niall, our Chief’s son. He is truly an asset to the clan… in fact, without him the clan as such would not really have any organization at all. The fact that we are now working to set up such an organization to bring together Livingstones (and we fewer) McLeas the world over is a testament to his efforts and work. A great fellow, I believe as well!)
Kyle, you may enjoy this bit of verse I posted on the HSS forum a couple of years ago in reaction to the "create your own clan in five easy steps" gibberish. Apologies to those members who don’t give a flying flip about Scottish heraldry and don’t understand the obscure references.
THE RAISING OF THE MACBLAGGARTS
by Joseph McMillan
(with apologies to Dr . Seuss)
“Look,” said the Lowlanders, “look at those tartans!
Those Highlanders must think that they are the smart ‘uns!
They think they’re so cool, with their crests and their feathers,
Their sporrans and skene dhus and sword belts of leathers.
Why can’t we be like them and have our own clan?
We’re as good as they are,” they agreed to a man.
Then suddenly up walked a colonel named Gayre,
And he said, “I have just the plan—if you dare.
Remember Sylvester McMonkey McBean?
The man with the marvelous star-on machine?
I have one to make clans: it’s called a derbfhine!
You’d be a great chief but forgot where your clan went?
No worries—we’ll make you a new one through manrent!
Look, look! It’s all here in Tam Innes’s book!
I know how to do it—please, do take a look!”
So the rest of that day, by the moors and the lochses,
They signed their petitions and put them in boxes,
And sent them express to the register houses.
They sealed them in lead to protect them from mouses.
They waited for months for the Lyon to roar.
They stood at the window, they stood at the door,
Awaiting the post that would bring them their arms,
Imagining names they could take from their farms,
To make themselves lairds! barons! chieftains! or chiefs, yit!
Two feathers! Three feathers! Can you believe it?
At long last the scrolls came; the letters were patent;
Their banners of arms they could hoist on the great tent.
With crayons and markers their tartan they drew,
They trysted together, the new clansman crew.
They pushed their chief forward, with Gayre at his shoulder,
And as he pushed forward he grew ever bolder.
“We’re here! I’m MacBlaggart of Upper Bigboulders,
Chief of MacBlaggart with all of my soldiers!
I may not have kin, but I found myself subs,
I found myself nine.. . Let us into your clubs!
We want to go shooting, we want to drink whisky,
We want to fish salmon, play bridge, and act frisky.”
They beat on the door ‘til it fell to the ground.
They pushed through the doorway and looked all around,
But all that they found was a black house stripped bare,
With scorches on walls left by Dalrymple Stair.
No whisky, no sherry, no cards to play bridge,
No soft leather sofas, not even a fridge.
“Where are the Campbells, MacNeills, and Clanranalds,
The Keppochs, Glengarries, and other MacDonalds?”
They asked an old shepherd they saw in the lane,
“Where are MacGregor, Mackenzie, Macbain?”
The man said, “I don’t know those names that you say,
Except for McDonalds—it’s open all day.
But if you would find those who used to be here,
You must travel far. It might take you a year.
They all went to Canada, Manchester, China,
Ulster and Kent, even North Carolina.
Now if you’ll excuse me I must get some sleep,
So if ye be Highlanders, please mind my sheep.”
Joseph McMillan;51151 wrote:
We want to go shooting, we want to drink whisky, We want to fish salmon, play bridge, and act frisky.”
The thought of the late Lieutenant Colonel Professor George Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, Baron of Lochoreshyre, Chief of Clan Gayre, ever wanting to be frisky is a frightening thing. http://jtl.org/links/gayre.html
Leaving Dr Seuss and his armorial wanna-bees aside for the moment —my command of poetry doesn’t go much past "There was a young man from Nantuckett"—a couple of words in defense of the ad-hoc derbfine business.
In no particular order:
Yes it is abysmally difficult, but that does tend to discourage the tartan-wanabees. Unfortunately, it is also a huge burden on more presentable petitioners, but nothing’s perfect.
If Lyon’s armorial rulings can decide (in the first instance, subject to appeal to higher courts) who holds a Scots peerage, why not a clan? Especially when the defining characteristic of chiefship nowadays is who holds the undifferenced arms. (There is some history to the idea of Lyon deciding who is chief—e.g. the Mackintosh—Macphersop squabble over leadership of the Clan Chattan in the 1670’s give-or-take)
The general approach taken in the details of the a-hoc derbfine rules seem IMO well-fitted (if cumbersome) to deciding between competing claimants based on uncertainties of genealogical seniority, or between competing well-established lines where the original chiefly line is apparently extinguished. In essence, Lyon requires the clan to settle it among themselves, come up with a consensus candidate, and then Lyon puts the armorial icing on the cake. Better IMO than having Lyon—or anyone else—decide between irreconcilable contenders.
As to ginning up business—Burnett & Dennis’ little book on Scottish Heraldric Heritage IIRC says that the recent workload averaged out to about one grant per day (I assume excluding weekends)—they don’t really seem to need to expand that workload, since its all (or more than) they can handle anyway.
All my own views of course, others may disagree…
Michael F. McCartney;51157 wrote:
Yes it is abysmally difficult, but that does tend to discourage the tartan-wanabees. Unfortunately, it is also a huge burden on more presentable petitioners, but nothing’s perfect.
I’m not sure it discourages the wannabes. It gives them a path to supposedly "official" status.
If Lyon’s armorial rulings can decide (in the first instance, subject to appeal to higher courts) who holds a Scots peerage, why not a clan? Especially when the defining characteristic of chiefship nowadays is who holds the undifferenced arms.
Because a peerage is held from the crown and its succession is defined by law. A clan is not held from the crown (the 17th century legal fiction to that effect notwithstanding), the position of chief is not defined by law, and indeed the Court of Session has held (in 1937) that it is now merely a conventional social position with no legal existence of which a Scottish court can take notice.
To make the possession of the undifferenced arms (which Lyon indisputably does get to adjudicate, subject to appeal) the defining characteristic of chiefship is putting the cart before the horse, not to mention gutting whatever remains of the notion of the chief as the leader of his people. Clans are not heraldic constructs, whatever Learney may have thought, and cannot be governed by the artificial "rules" invented by heralds.
A path, yes; but a particularly steep, rocky and fairly well-policed path.
I understand the arguments against Lyon’s jurisdiction, and strictly speaking they may be quite "correct" (though I’m not certain where the line might be drawn in the cited Court of Session case between the actual binding decision & mere dicta by the judges that, while expressed in the same document, are not part of the binding decision).
However, the social/political/military realities of medieval chiefship are no longer available or appropriate in modern society for establishing who’s in charge. In the absence of any effective alternative, Lyon essentially "wins" by default; and over time, the practical acceptance of his rulings by all or nearly all concerned, will essentially IMO solidify into binding precedent.
I have decided to go ahead and design some arms for my family that use the MacLea stem arms, but are free to diverge according to any way I (we) wish. I’m not going to worry about retaining my earlier design in particular, and feel it would probably be better to diverge a little more from the Chiefly arms…
I’m going to throw out the design process to you, my fellow members at the AHS, and look for some good ideas, which we can work to put into something my family and I will enjoy.
MacLea Chief’s arms: "Quarterly, First Or, a lion rampant Gules, Second and Third Argent, a dexter hand couped at the wrist Gules, holding a cross crosslet fitchée Azure, Fourth Or, in chief a salmon naiant Proper, in base three bars wavy Azure."
Previously proposed arms for my father/brother/nephew are the same except "Fourth Or, in chief a salmon naiant Proper, in base three bars wavy Azure" has been replaced with "Fourth parted per fess wavy Or and Azure a sparrowhawk volant Sable in chief, a salmon naiant Proper with a gemmed ring in the mouth."
The gemmed ring in the mouth of the salmon is for Glasgow, from whence the family came before the USA.
Basic travels are: Isle of Bute, Scotland—> Glasgow—> Boston
There was a brief stopover in Chicago and New Jersey, but the family did not put down roots in either place.
The sparrowhawk is a punning reference to a jeweler’s anvil, since jeweler is the profession of my immigrant ancestor, James Brown MacLea.
Everything else comes from the MacLea stem arms.
I like the idea of staying within the "West Highland" quarterly tradition, but am open to other suggestions. I also want to maintain a cross crosslet fitchee Azure for St. Moluag in the arms. The doubled cross is a unique aspect of MacLea arms that I would like to keep, but if there are other design suggestions, I am open to them as well, as long as a cross remains somewhere.
I would like to introduce a charge for New England into the mix. A couple I have considered are a tree of some kind (I like trees in arms and am a biologist by training), such as a Sugar Maple, and an American Lobster (Proper or even Azure, but not the cooked Gules!).
As in the earlier discussion, I would also like to design slightly differenced arms for myself (a slight difference is fine, such as quarterly indented, or whatnot), but this can be discussed at the end.
One thing I would also like to do is to design similar arms for my half-brother. In doing so, I am open to what aspects of the MacLea arms to keep, but I think something should be in there, as he is very much part of our larger family. But I would also like to introduce something to commemorate his paternal and maternal lines. My mother is of French-Canadian extraction, Clement is her name. My brother’s father is a Silvia, of Portuguese extraction. If we can find any relevant heraldic themes from Clement and Silvia, it might be fun to incorporate such a thing as well.
We can design Crests afterwards.
So: Any design ideas for the Paternal Arms (father/brother/nephew), 2nd-son arms (me), and my half-brother’s arms?
I’ll let the discussion go where it wants from here, and interject as I’m able, but I’m open to any and all ideas! Let’s have ‘em!
I guess I’ll start the bidding, how about for my father:
"Quarterly, First Or, a sugar maple tree eradicated proper, leaved Gules, Second and Third Argent, a dexter hand couped at the wrist Gules, holding a cross crosslet fitchée Azure, Fourth parted per fess wavy Or and Azure a sparrowhawk volant Sable in chief, a salmon naiant Proper with a gemmed ring in the mouth."
Just to start the ball rolling, not sure how this would look.
I have followed this thread with a little bit of interest, and here’s my ideas for arms:
In the first quadrant is the New England Pine. It was on the Flag of New England during colonial times. (Can also change to Argent with a Pine tree Vert, but I was trying to reference the Gulles on Or of the original MacLea).
In the fourth Quadrant of the first picture , the 3 hills on the bottom represent Boston’s old name Tremon or "trimount", and are used in the Boston College arms. While I couldn’t get direct confirmation the lymphad is used in the Argyll and Bute Council, and it is also found on the http://www.bute-gateway.org/heritage.shtml, and it also appears on the Isle of Bute wiki page., so while I can’t be sure the lymphad is a Bute symbol, circumstantial evidence leads to that at least. The lymphad on the hills is supposed to show Bute, landing upon Boston (i.e. your family landing in America). The checker is also for reference to the Rothesay arms as well (even though I think those might be in reference to Stuart/Stewart clan). I am also always trying to sneak the checker pattern in wherever I can
In the second image i drop the hills and checker in the 4th quad, for an Azure wavy charged with a salmon holding a ring for the Glasgow reference. The lymphad is still in there.
Some comments on your suggestions and on Colin’s suggestions.
The lymphad. This was used in the arms of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay (granted 1925 but apparently dating from c1400) and by Bute County Council (granted 1927 but dating from 1890).
In the Royal Burgh arms the lymphad was considered simply to symbolise the fishing and shipping interests of the burgh and was accompanied by a castle, the sun and moon and impaled with the Stewart fess chequy. The impaled arms being the two sides of the 1400 seal combined in one coat.
The unique thing about these arms was "the sun and the moon, both coloured tenny (a dull orange), which Lord Bute said was a livery colour of the House of Stewart but which is bery unusual in Scots heraldry." The sun is actually in the form of an estoile of five points and may also recall starfish.
In the County Council arms it was the Arran lymphad from the arms of the Dukes of Hamilton. The arms of the County Council could have been described as Hamilton dimidiating Stewart.
In both cases the blazon would be Argent a lymphad sails furled Sable flagged Gules.
The later Argyll & Bute District Council which came about post-1975 used the Stewart fess chequy to represent Bute. The arms of the current Argyll & Bute Council use identical symbolism to represent Bute.
In my view, introducing a galley moves the arms away from McLea - especially the second version by Colin with the galley & salmon. This was initially more a feeling than anything concrete but somehow it didn’t look right. On looking at Alistair Campbell of Airds article on the HSS website it strikes me as being too Maclean.
New England Symbolism I like the idea of a tree since a greater emphasis on it can produce a pun on Silvia. The full square Or a New England Pine Gules looks a bit much to my eye and reduces the McLea symbolism. As such it might be more useful for your half-brother. It also seems from the little research I’ve done that the pine was used in a canton so I would suggest that the first quarter could be done as
Gules on a triple mount a lion rampant Or on a canton Argent a New England Pine Proper
Keeping a lion in quarter one preserves the west highland symbolism - the lion is an important totem.
My suggestion Sadly I have no technical ability to emblazon it
Quarterly, 1st Gules on a triple mount a lion rampant Or on a canton Argent a New England Pine Proper 2nd & 3rd Argent a dexter hand couped at the wrist Gules holding a cross crosslet fitchee Azure 4th Per fess wavy Or and Azure a sparrowhawk volant Sable in chief, a salmon naiant Proper with a gemmed ring in the mouth
For your half brother I would suggest replacing the lion with the single tree per Colin’s suggestion or reverting to the Or field and having the lion between three trees.
Thank you Colin and James for the suggestions!
I had forgotten entirely about the New England flag with Pine Tree, but of course that’s a good symbol for the region. (As a graduate of Dartmouth, it is also a good thing for that, although in both the original NE flag and Dartmouth’s Lone Pine, it is green, of course. But I don’t want to add too many tinctures to the arms, either, it already has a few!) The fact that a tree, of course, would be a great canting reference to Silvia (why didn’t I think of that?) would make it a nice way to have some similarities there without overwhelming things. I do have to say that I agree with James that the full quarter "Or a Pine Tree Gules" is a bit much on the eye, but I love the symbol. Any other suggestions other than a canton that would work?
I have to say that I am not crazy about the Lymphad. It is great in others’ arms, but maybe like for James, it just doesn’t say McLea to me. I am also somewhat resistant to the Stewart chequy… you see, ever since the McLeas fought alongside the Stewarts in the ‘45, they’ve been called their "sept" or "follower." (Our growing clan in fact has some dispute with the National Trust for Scotland right now over the wording of the Appin Regiment marker at Culloden. We want the inclusive "Appin Regiment" but the NTS and MacLarens and Stewarts want "Appin Regiment—Stewarts of Appin and MacLarens," which ignores the contributions of the other 16 or so clans who fought under the banner. But I digress.)
I *do* very much like the "triple mount" for Boston, that seems a great symbol. Of course, I know I’m not immediately being very helpful, because I like the sparrowhawk and I like the lion, but retaining both is neat if it can be done that way. Of course, I don’t want to make the shield too busy, so if one has to go, it has to go.
One idea that would be possible I had was to switch the 1st and 4th quarters, but I’m not sure if there is any point to that.
Or maybe the sparrowhawk or salmon could be moved to the 1st quarter somehow….
Anyway, I’m not a great heraldic designer yet, which is why I came to you guys.
I’d love to hear more suggestions, though. I like the ones so far, but I’d like more options to sort through too. Great ideas to start though, really nice!
Kyle MacLea;51295 wrote:
I have to say that I am not crazy about the Lymphad. It is great in others’ arms, but maybe like for James, it just doesn’t say McLea to me.
Having checked up Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk’s "The Highland Clans" which has a small article on the MacLeas/Livingstones I can well understand why the lymphad says nothing to you because it isn’t your clan "totem" whilst the lion is.
Moncreiffe reckons (in extended family trees on the endpapers) that the lymhad is borne by those families connected into the Norse world, especially the descendants of Somerled whereas those families bearing the lion are of Dalriadic stock. In this latter group are the MacLeas whom he assigned a place as descendants of Aedh "Anradhan" and the heiress of Cowall & Knapdale, along with (in particular) the MacEwens of Otter and the MacSweeneys who later moved back to Donegal.
Thus the lion and the cross are probably the more important totemic symbols in your case, though that is only because I don’t believe that anyone has worked out the symbolism of the salmon yet.
I’ve printed off this 3rd page of commentary for a more thoughtful and complete (I hope!) consideration & response tomorrow—its getting on towards supper time!—but one initial comment FWIW:
IIRC in one of the earlier runs at your possible arms, maybe on Anthony Maxwell’s ScotsHeraldry forum, one of the suggestions was quarterly per saltire. Again IIRC the arguments in favor included, in no particular order -
* avoiding the pitfalls of West Highland quarterly arms in a non-WH environment (i.e. west of the pond, where most non-Scottish-Americans would naturally assume a collection of heiresses);
* avoiding the question of possibly overly-busy differencing for indeterminate cadency given the lack of known’proven descent from the chiefly stem e.g. (crosses overall and/or quarterly-by-funny-lines, etc.)—i.e. the least visual departure from, or distortion of, the layout of the chiefly coat, while still unmistakably not appearing to make a visual claim of blood relationship
* given the relatively distinctive feature in the chiefly arms of identical 2nd & 3rd quarters, placing that charge in the flanks of a per-saltire coat made for a nice balance.
May have been more, its been awhile…
Well here’s some more, that keep the Rampant Lion, and are actually a little closer to the Original MacLea arms:
(In the top/first two the Rampant Lion should be "holding"the escutcheon, but It would have been a lot of effort for arms that may or may not be liked. So please ignore the fact that they are on top of the lion, and think of the lion as holding them)
A small suggestion regarding Colin’s latest design:
What if the lion were holding a pine tree eradicated vert in its raised forepaw, rather than displayed on a shield?