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www.maclean.org - Home to the Worldwide Family of Clan Maclean  

The Names and Families of Clan Maclean

Septs

A sept is a family or a kindred (a group of related persons) that for any number of reasons has associated itself with a larger family or kindred. Septs were often small in size and obtaining the protection of a larger more powerful family was of great importance in the unruly Middle Ages and even up to and including the 1700s. In exchange for their protection, the larger family or kindred demanded and received loyalty and sometimes fealty and they treated the sept as part of the overall kindred.
In addition to the various spellings of Maclean, there are a large number of surnames that are traditionally associated with or belong to this great Scottish family. These additional surnames are referred to as “septs” and the following list, although extensive, is not necessarily complete.
In Scotland and Ireland, the concept of the "sept" was commonplace with the protecting family or kindred being referred to as a "clan" More on this can be found at Wikipedia on Septs and Wikipedia on Clans .

More about surnames and family names

A family name or surname indicates to what family a person belongs, however, until the 12th century, most people did not have or use a family name, and they were generally referred to by their "given" name. According to Wikipedia, one of the most accepted theories for the origin of surname use attributes their introduction to the Normans and the Domesday Book of 1086 - and although there is a lot of logic in the suggestion, it is by no means certain that this is the case. Indeed, there is an opposing theory that holds that the introduction of family names (especially patronymic names) was a method of distinguishing between people with the same, common, given name. From the Middle Ages onwards, the use of surnames gradually became an accepted practice. But, in some parts of the world, family names did not appear in common use until the 17th to 19th centuries.  More...