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 Clans and Their Relationship to This Jameson Family

A clan is basically a tribe, united primarily by kinship and descent, and in some cases might even be a race unto itself. Clans and tribes can be found throughout history in many countries and across many cultures. As in most 'tribes' all clans rule themselves from within, at least initially, and are far from democratic. They were extremely structured and very aristocratic, with obvious social grades from the chief down to the smallest member.

Scottish and Irish clans can be found in one form or another back very far in history, at least to the time when the Romans ruled Briton. Some suggest that it was the Romans who by their act of rule forced the barbaric tribes of the island north into the highlands, which until that time were heavily wooded and very sparsely inhabited. Through the early centuries of modern history many races and peoples invaded and inhabited the British Isles: Celts, Gaels, Romans, Picts, Norse, Saxons and the Normans, to name a few. Many of these groups became the foundations for clans. Each clan claimed sovereignty over its own lands and possessions and fiercely defended those claims.[1]

Scottish clans in particular have become the very definition of the word clan, both as to its meaning and as its historical reference. When most people see the word "clan" they automatically associate it with Scottish clans (apart perhaps with many Americans who may associate the term first with the Klu Klux klan), the clan system and folklore. A clan, in Gaelic meaning 'offspring' or 'children', is the equivalent of family, and clan chiefs and barons were quick to understand that in a family there can be no divisions and accordingly developed the most magnificent aristocracy in the world.[2]

As Bishop Leslie explained: "noct only the nobilite but the hail people tak an inordinate pride" in noble birth, and in which "pride of ancestry, directed as it was amongst this people, produced very beneficial effects on their character.[3] It is not for a lack of reason that the term "proud as a Scot" is understood around the world.

Although no direct proof has yet be found, our Jameson family undoubtedly would have been associated with a Scottish clan. Although there was never a "traditional" Clan Jameson, in Scotland, Ireland or anywhere else, there are many clans who held that surname as a sept of their clan. Lowland clans were different, generally based around individual families but with less structure and none of the grandiose we know and associate with the highland clans. There were known Jameson families in the Middle Marches of the Border region and as likely Reivers of that era, were probably considered a clan by this definition. Irish clans also show those of this surname as members but because of the brief period and unusual conditions our particular Jameson family spent in Ireland it is not likely that they had any part in Irish clans.[4]

Tradition holds our Jamesons emigrated to Ulster, Ireland from Argyle (Argyllshire), Scotland in the early 1600's. In those days that area (later a county and then disbanded in 1975) covered a lot of area in the lower middle part along the west coast of Scotland, including the Island of Bute. This area was home to the Clan Stewart and many Jameson families as well as other families known to be in Ulster, in and amongst our Jameson family. Clan Stuart of Bute from the Island of Bute, a branch of the Clan Stewart, specifically lists the surname Jameson as a sept of the clan and Jameson families were prominent there for several centuries. Jameson's were also a well known sept of the Clan Gunn from the far northeastern part of Scotland to which many American Jameson families consider their heritage. However no known connection exists between the Jamesons of Clan Gunn and our Jameson family in Ulster, Ireland. Nor do we know of any connections with the Jameson 'clan' families of the Lowland border areas, either.

A brief detail of Clan Stewart, Stuart of Bute and Clan Gunn with each ones relationship to Jamesons can be found by clicking on each named link. There is also a detail of the Jameson clans in the border area here. Further history of each clan is rich in its descriptions of many of their chiefs, their life and their battles, all of which is documented well elsewhere. As this is not intended to be a history of each clan and the interested reader is urged to separately seek out this documentation.


[1]      The Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands - Frank Adam and Sir Thomas, Innes of Learney - 1965 pp95

[2]      ibid

[3]      Highlands and Island of Scotland - W. C. Mackenzie, pp 89

[4]      See "Our Early Jameson History - A Little Background"