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Is Clan Strachan a Family (or Sept) of Mar, or any other Clan?

The Strachan surname is listed prominently in every Sept List as a Family of the Tribe of Mar.  However, like all clan tartans today, this is largely a Victorian era romantic notion.  The short "technical" answer is Strachan is not a sept of any clan, nor are any other clans a sept of Clan Strachan. 

Regardless, this fact nonetheless dampens the strong affection many Strachans from around the globe have toward the Tribe of Mar, and Lady Mar herself.   Many Strachans wear the Mar tartan, which reflects a sept relationship, and outwardly demonstrates particular affection to the Tribe of Mar. It is the official position of the Clan Strachan Society not to deny the family relationship to those who wish to honour it, but embrace the heritage and history of both the Mar and Strachan families.

Clan Strachan is popularly thought to be a Sept of Mar, because Adam de Strachan, a descendant of the 'de Strachan' baronetcy dispossessed by Robert de Bruce before 1316, married Margaret Mar, a kinswomen (daughter) to Earl Thomas Mar, and with this marriage he obtained the lands of Glenkindie (c. 1355).  As a result of this marriage the Strachan House of Glenkindie is confirmed as a vassal of the Earl of Mar. 

A "vassal" is defined as: A holder of land by feudal tenure on conditions of homage and allegiance.

In 1355 there were five other noble Houses of Strachan in existence, and all descendant from the ancient 'de Strachan' line.  Like most families today, each acted very independently of each other.  Of the six noble Houses of Strachan, Glenkindie was the only that was a vassal or the Earl of Mar. 

Certainly the entire family of Strachan had no allegiance nor did the entire family pay homage to the Earl of Mar other than this single branch of the family. And, even if Glenkindie were recognized as the senior branch by the other noble Houses of Strachan, it still would not technically result in a sept relationship. As such, from a technical perspective it is “presumptuous” to think that STRACHAN as a Name (i.e., the entire family) is a sept of Mar.

Others argue that the Parish of Strachan fell within the Earldom of Mar.  This again is false.  The Strachan territory is south of the Waters of the Dee, and just outside the boundaries of the earldom of Mar.  The Parish of Strachan was instead part of lands belonging to the Mormaer of the Mearns.  Regardless, simply being located within a "clan territory" or within an District, would not necessitate a sept relationship. (Ref. Lochnaw)

Is there another family that Clan Strachan might be Sept of?

According to the chartularies, Strachan of Carmyllie and over several generations had signed several Bonds of Manrent, or personal service and attendance, in favor of their superior, Sir Thomas Maule of Panmure, and his heirs.

As a result of Carmyllie's Bond of Manrent, one might suggest, and even make a stronger argument, that Clan Strachan should be a Family (or sept) of Clan Maule.  However, this assumption again would be false for the same reasons discussed previously.  That is, no other Houses of Strachan were vassals of Maule.

Regardless, many Strachans in Scotland and abroad wear the Mar District tartan, or the Deeside District tartan.  These families may have a long standing family tradition of wearing these tartans perhaps dating back generations.  Some may wear the Mar tartan presumably to show their affiliation with the now extinct Strachans of Glenkindie and the Earldom of Mar. 

Naturally, people can wear whatever they want, and it is after all their choice.  That said, today it is highly recommended that those who wish to outwardly demonstrate their loyalty and affection to Clan Strachan, should most appropriately wear the Strachan tartan. 


Other Reading

[1] http://www.hunthill.4t.com/custom.html

[2] http://www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk/scottish-clan-septs.html

 

 

 


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