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What is a sept?

This is one of the most common questions people ask. Essentially, a clan is a collection of families, living in a more or less defined area, and loyal to a specific chief.  The most powerful family (which is also usually the wealthiest) carries the name of the clan - in our case, the MacLeods.  Other families that belong to the clan are referred to as "septs."

Just because your name isn't MacLeod doesn't mean that your family isn't part of the clan!  Likewise, even if you share a sept name you might still not be of a family that was specifically involved with the Clan MacLeod.  We encourage you to research your personal genealogy, itself a facinating and rewarding experience. There are a number of websites dedicated to the history of family and sept names, some of which are listed here. Above all, we remain welcoming to all persons who express an interest in joining the Clan MacLeod.

Septs of Clan MacLeod

ALLUM

(Also known as Callum, Callam, MacCallum, Challum, MacAllum, Gillecallum, MacGillechallum, MacCalman, Malcolm, and MacAlman)

Sept of MacLeod of Lewis as well as Clan MacCallum and Clan Malcolm according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "the Surnames of Scotland" says Allum is a curtailed form of MacCallum through the form MacAllum (pg 20) and that MacCallum is a derivitive of Macgillechallum and Gillecallum (pgs 127 and 463).
Black goes on to say that Callam/Callum is the surname of an old Glenbuchat family and an abbreviation of Malcolm. The derivitive Challum existed in 1741 and the form, Maolchalium, was used til the 17th century (pg 126). Callum is also a derivitive of Gillealum. (pg 127). Black also states MacAllum is a form of MacCallum and that MacAlman is a form of MacCalman/MacAllum (pg 451). He goes on to say that MacCallum is "son of the gillie of Calum" (pg 463), and that Callum now passes as the Gaelic equivalent of Malcolm which was originally Mael-Coluimb (Columba's devotee) (pg 831).

The family was in Scotland as early as the 1600s. William Callum in Glenbuchat was fined in 1636. There was a MacCalme in Ayr in 1631, a M'Callum murdered at Dunaverty in 1647, a Rev. M'Callome in Glassary in 1661, a M'allum charged with cattle-lifting in Lennox in 1687. Sometime before 1850, the head of the family of Poltalloch changed the name from MacCallum to Malcolm "for aesthetic reasons" (pg 463). An old Highland prophecy that MacCallum should sit in MacCailein Mor's chair was held to be accomplished by Malcolm of Poltalloch possessing the castle (pg 463).

BEATON

(See also Bethune, Beton and Betha)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin". This sept is also associated with Clan MacBeth.

According to Black's "the Surnames of Scotland", Beaton and Bethune were two learned families who practiced medicine in the Isles in the 16tha nd 17th centuries when the names became merged in English in the one surname of Beaton. The Gaelic of the name is Peutan or Beutan. (pg 63)

The Beatons who practiced medicine in Skye were MacLeods. The Beatons of Skye "were real Beatons or Bethunes from Fife, descended from the lairds of Balfour. a grandson of the fifth laird, Dr. Peter Bethune, settled in Skye about the middle of the 16th century. His descendants intermarried with families in the Hebridies. (pg 63)

BETHEA

See Beaton. This is an American derivitive in the South.

CREMMON

See MacCrimmon. American spelling

GRIMMOND

(See also Grimman, Griman, and MacCrimmon)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "The Surnames of Sscotland' also lists Grimman. (pg 329)

According to Black, Grimmond is a Perthshire surname, a disguised form of (Mac) Crimmon. Griman was in Perth in 1534 and 1657, in Cottoun of Pitfour in 1665, in Nairne in 1698, in Auchtergaven in 1698, and in Easter Tullyneydies in 1724. (pg 329)

HAROLD

(See also Harrold, MacHarold, Harald, Haraldson, Herrald and MacRaild)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin".
Haraldson is also associated with MacLeod according to Black's "the Surnames of Scotland". The names mean son of Harald.

Black also indicated Harold is an Englishing of MacRaild (pg 342). Also that Harrold is in Orkney a contraction for Harraldson (pg 344).

There were Haraldsons in Orkney in 1434 and in Tukquy about 1500. (pg and a Haraldi in Inverness in 1430, and a Heraldsoun in Casteltoun, Strathdee, in 1539. (pg 342, 344)

LEWIS

(See also MacLewis)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis. This sept is also considered a part of Clan Stewart according to "Scots Kith & Kin".

MacANDIE

(Also known as Andie, MacKande, Makcandy, MacKandy, MacHandie)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" says Andie is a curtailed form of MacAndie and is current in Argyllshire (pg 452). Black further states that this name is a small sept in the island of Bernera, Sound of Harris, known as Clann 'lc Anndaidh or 'Ic Anndai. He goes on to say that the island name consists of only a few families and that the name here is from the Old Norse personal name, Andi. In local folklore, the long-tailed ducks are held to be enchanted MacAndies. (pg 452).

Black says there was a McHandie in Newmore in 1580 and perhaps a M'Chandwe in Inverness in 1556. Johnne McKande was in Morange in 1596 and Makcandy and Makcandie were in the attack on the galley of the laird of Balcomie in 1600. (pg 452).

MacASKILL

(See also MacAsgill, MacKaskill, McCaskill, MacCaskie, Kasky, MaKasky, and Taskill)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis according to "Scots Kith & Kin".

Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" says the MacAsgills are kown as Clann t-Asgaill (pg 45). Black also lists spellings and states that Taskill is also a derivitive of MacAsgill (pg 763). The name is Gaelic (MacAsgaill) derived from the personal name of Askell (sacrificial vessel of the gods).

McCaskill was in Ebost in the 16th century, M'Askle was in the Reay Fencibles in 1795, MacAskill in Lewis in 1863 and in Bernera earlier.

"The Soay of our Forefathers" by Laurence Reid states that the McCaskills were fugitives to the Hebrides and occupied Rubh an Dunain which the MacLeods had gotten through marriage. This is on a peninsula on the southwest coast of the Isle of Skye in an area known as Loch Brittle. The McCaskills held land first in exchange for watch duties for the MacLeods in defense of their coastline, but then were later charged rent. In the 1700s, the McCaskills had seven farms - all called by different names, but totaling 27,000 acres, including the Isle of Soay. (Note: one of these farms was Bolinture, the ancestral home of the North Carolina McCaskills).

Reid continues: the first immigrants were sons of Finley McCaskill who left in 1771 for North Carolina. In about 1802, another group of McCaskills, related to the first, came to North Carolina and then to South Carolina. In 1825, MacLeods took over lands again for sheep raising, and many McCaskills went to Canada.

MacAULAY

(See also Aulay, Caulay, MacAlley, MacAllay, MacCaulay, MacCauley, MacAuley, Calley, Coll, and MacCorley)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" says Auley is of twofold origin. The Hebridian form is from Olafr/Aleifr. In early Irish, the name appears with various spellings and results in MacAulay in the Hebrides (pg 37).

Black also states MacAulay is from MacAmhalghaidh, an old irish personal name pronounced almost as MacAulay. From MacAmhlibh/MacAmhlaidh (son of Amlaib, the old Gaelic form of Olafr) comes the Hebridean name of MacAulay. (pg 445).

Black also says that MacCorley was most probably a corruption of MacAulay. (pg 476).

According to James Ayars, Genealogy coordinator of the Associated Clan MacLeod Society on 7/3/2000, "MacAuley is both a sept of Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald, and a clan in its own right. There are two origins for the surname: the first is Ireland, with MacAuley being one form of an ancient surname found there. The other is of Norse origin in the Western Hebrides. Auley is one of several Gaelic/English forms for the Norse name, Olaf.

The descendants of a Norseman who settled in the Hebrides are called MacAuley and constitute the Clan MacAuley. However, this Norseman was under the protection of another, more powerful ruler - in the case of the sept, the Norseman, (Leotr or Leod of MacLeod or Somerled, the founder of Clan Donald).

As such, the MacAuleys, although a clan, constitute a clan under the protection of another clan, and are thus a sept of that protective clan...." "There is another branch of MacAuleys under the protection of the Earl of Lennox."

MacCABE

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Primarily Irish according to Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" (pg 461) which states the McCabes were a branch of the MacLeods of Arran who appears to have migrated to Ireland in the 14th century. The earliest mention of the name is in the Irish annals in 1368 when Hugh MacCabe was slain. They were mercenaries of Norse-Hebridean origin under the Irish princes of Breffny and Oriel. They followed the profession of condottieri (their chiefs being known by the title of Constable), (pg 461). Though they were in Scotland, the family of MacCabe are now widely spread through the midland counties of Ireland (especially through Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Meath) where they are remarkable for their xanthous complexions, their vivacity and vigour". (pg 461)

Black further says that in the Book of the Dean of Lismore, the name appears as M'Caybba (a rare name) though existing in the Highlands.

Black goes on to say that a McKape (MacCabe or MacRebb) was prisoner in Edinburgh in 1689.

MacCAIG

(See also MacCuaig, MacKaig, MacCrivag, MacCowig, MacCoig and MacQuigg)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "the Surnames of Scotland" state that MacCaig (MacDbubhaig) means son of Blackie.

For more than two centuries the name was common in Islay as M'Cuaig or M'Cowag. Various other spellings occur. (pg 482 and 521).

MacCASKIE

(See also Caskie, Kasky, MacKasky, MacAskey, Askie, and MacAskill)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" says Askey is a curtailed form of MacAskie. (pg 34). MacCaskie is a derivitive of MacAsgill/MacAskill. MacAskie and MacCaskie are Galloway surnames meaning "son of Ascaidh" (a pet form of Askell of MacAskill).

Black goes on to say that Caskies are found in Kirtoune in the parish of Stewarton in 1666, in Home in 1684, at Canongate Tolbooth in 1686, in Bridgend in 1668, and in Edinburgh in 1722. (pg 141). There was also a Kasky in Dunbretan in 1494, a Makasky in Glasfurde in 1574, and a M'Caskie in Glasgow in 1588. (pgs 454 and 455)

MacCLURE

(Also see McClure, MacLure, MacLur, MacAlear, MacLeur, MacLewer, MacClewer)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "the Surnames of Scotland" mention MacLeur (pg 538). MacLewer and MacClewer are known American derivitives.

Many MacClures settled in Ireland prior to the 1600s.

Black found MacClures in Galloway. McLur, McLure and McClure were respited for murder in 1526, Maklure was in Carrick in 1532, McLoir was in Dumfries in 1570, McLuir was in Gugane in 1607 charged with assault. McLur in Craigfine was charged with usury in 1617. MacLloure was in Parbrek in 1618, M'Clour is in Apyn in 1664 and M'Cloor/M'Clwre is in Burley, Galloway in 1684. Mary M'Whote was sentenced to be banished to the plantations for resetting of rebels and other offenses in 1664. McKluire was in Carsfern as a disorderly person in 1664. (pg 538)

MacAlear is a variant of MacClure, current in Galloway. John Macalier signed the Band of Dumfries in 1570. (pg 450)

There are many families in Sleat on Skye named MacLure but whose name is spelled in Gaelic as M'Leora (for MacGille dhedradha), a side form of Dewer.
According to "the MacLeods: The History of a Clan" by I. F. Grant, Torquil MacLeod married a MacNicol (heir of Naughton) and got part of the island known as Lochs & Stornoway on Lewis. They are...."descended of some of the MacLeods who went with sr. Norman MacLeod of Bernera to Battle of Worcester and (who), after the defeat of the Royalists, fled to Ireland and took a different name...." (Note: Hence McClure). (pg 27, 194, 297)

MacCOIG

See MacCaig. An American spelling. The name means Cuckoo.

MacCORKILL

(See also McCorkie, MacKerkyll, MacCorkle, MacOrkill, MacKorkyll, and McKurkull)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis. This sept is also assocaited with Clan Gunn, according to "Scots Kith & Kin".
 
The origin of the name is a variation of "Mac Torcaill", or son of Torkill,  Black's "the Surnames of Scotland" further says that MacCorkie is an abbreviated form of MacCorkill and that MacCorkle and MacCorkill are the same.  There may be some additional information in Black's that muddies the waters a bit, as he also states that the name is derived from "son of thorcull", a shortened form of Thorketil of MacCorquodale (pg 476).  However, other sources support MacCorquodale as a separate family or even Clan of its own.  (See "MacCorkindale", below.)    

In 1561, Jannet M'Korkyll was slain (aka Nyk Kerkyll). In 1613, a McCorquell in Drumnacarrie was fined and a MacCorkill in Mull was put to the horn in 1629. McKurkull occurs in 1661 (pg 476).

MacCORKINDALE

(See also MacCorquodale, MacCorcadail, Corquodale and MacThorcadail)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis according to "Scots Kith & Kin".  However, while Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" lists Corquodale (pg 172), it indicates no evidence of any relationship between MacCorkindale and its derivitives and the Clan MacLeod. (pg 477)
 
The surname McCorquodale is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic Mac Thorcadail (or MacCorcadail), meaning "son of Torcadal". The Gaelic personal name Torcadal is of Norse origin and means "Thor's kettle", thus giving it a different origin than the "MacCorkill" group of names (see above).  The name is also spelled as MacC(h)orcadail and MacThorcadail. According to Black's, little is known of the early history (pg 477).

Mactorquedil/M'Corquheddell was in Perth in 1430. In 1434, mention of Makcorquydill, Lord of Maintelan, is made. Mikeorcadill granted his lands of Eddeerlin in exchange for other lands in 1509. Makcrocadill was minister of Strathfillan from 1569-1585. M'Orquidill was a Glenorchy vassal in 1638. This last name is fairly common in Kintyre (pg 477).

The Clan also received a letter from Lord Lyon in 2010 further noting some history of families with these names.

MacCRIMMON

(See also MacRimmon, Crimmon, Grimmond, MacGrimman, Cremmon, MacCrummen, and MacGrymmen)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's, The Surnames of Scotland" says the name is MacCriomthain or MacCruimein meaning "famed protector". (pg 480)

He says the name is found on one of the rune-inscribed crosses at Kirk Michael on the Isle of Man, as Rumun. MacChrummen was in Inverness in 1533, Hector M'Crimmon signed a deed on behalf of Isabella (wife of Sir Rory Mor who suceeded to the chiefship of Dunvegan in 1595. Also, a MacLeod of dunvegan was a complainer against two men named M'Grymmen in 1599. A McCrummen was in Scotland in 1717 and McGrimmon/McGrinnan in 1635. (pg 480)

Black further states that a family of the name were hereditary pipers to MacLeod of MacLeod.

MacGILLECHALLUM

(See also Allum)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "the Surnames of Scotland" says that Mac-ille-Challum is the patronymic of the MacLeods of Raasay (pg 498) and that Mac Gille Chaluim means son of Calum's gillie.

According to Black, the name in 1432 was MacGillequhaillum of MacGillecq(h)ualum. M'gillecaloune was a juror at the court of Earl of Sutherland in 1471. M'Yllecallum and McIlchallum were in Islay in 1541. McGillichalme was in the parish of Alness in 1649. M'Gillechallum was the slayer of Lochlan M'Intosh, captain of Clan Chattan in 1675. M'Ilchallum of Kirkipoyle in Tiree, was a rebel in that same year. M'Ilchallume is in Drumlych, parish of Balquhidder then, too. Several McIllichallums or McGillichallums were in Shawbost in 1725. (pg 498)

MacRAILD

(Also see Harold and MacRalte)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "the Surnames of Scotland" is from Harailt (Gaelic) or Aralt (Middle Irish) or from Harald-r (Norse).

Black further states there are some families of this name on the MacLeod estates who are supposed to be descended or named from MacRaild Armuinn, a Danish knight of the reign of Alexander III. A McRalte was in Strathdee in 1527. The MacRailds of Clan Tarralaich were associated with Petty near Inverness (pg 561).
According to "The MacLeods: The History of a Clan", Leod (MacLeod) received Dunvegan by marrying the heiress of MacRailt which may be same as MacRaill. Also, the daughter of a Norman married an Irish king. One of their sons was Harold who is almost certainly the founder of the MacRailds. (pg 28)
An American family of McRaild changed their name to Ronaldson.

MacWILLIAM

(See also McCullie, MacKullie, MacKilliam, MacWillie, MacWylie, MacWilliams, and Williamson)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "the Surnames of Scotland' says MacUilleim means son of William. The Teutonic name, William, was early in the Highlands and the MacWilliams were powerful Gaelic claimants for the Scottish throne against King William the Lion and descended from Malcolm III and William, the fifth chief of MacLeod. (pg 572)
MacWillie and MacWyllie are diminutives of William and now usually spelled MacWilliam according to Black.

Black also says Makwilliam was in the Black Isle in 1500, Makwillzam was in Croudan in 1506 and 1521, McWilzeme was in Strathdee in 1527, McWilliame was in Ardes and Auchmahechinche. Also, McQuilliam was in Glenlyoun in 1682 and was denounced as a "brokine man". (pg 572).

Black says a family of MacWilliam is said to have been established in the parish of Mortlach in 1550 and many may have now changed their name to Williamson.
Black also says many MacWilliams or MacWillies existed in Glenlivet and the name is found there in old records as McKullie, McVillie, M'Quhilzeame, etc. McCulliam and McCulziame appear in Wigtown in 1684. Current names also include MacQuilliam, MacKilliam, and MacWilliams.

Black further states Mcwilly was in Camusbeg in 1499 and that in the 17th and 18th centuries, there were many families in Glenlivet inthe parish of Inveravon, Banffshire. Often the name occurs as McCullie and McCullie and is confused with MacCulloch. (pg 572)

MALCOLM

A derivitive of Allum, but not associated with Clan MacLeod, rather Malcolm has its own clan. See Allum

MALCOLMSON

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" state that Malcolmson (son of Malcolm) is found as early in 1296 in Berwickshire. A Malcolmson was in Stirling in 1437, a Malcolmsoun was in Esterdrume in 1474, and a Malcolmsoun or Makolchallum or Malcolm appears in Craginche in 1542. (pg 577)

NICOL

(See also Nichol(s), Nicoll, Nicholl, Nicolson, Nicholson, McNychol, MacNickle, MacNichol, Necolson, Nicollsoun, Nucolsone, Nuckall, Nuccol, Nickle, and deNicole)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis although MacNicol is also associated with Clan MacFie (originally of Clan Alpin). "Scots Kith & Kin" states that Nicol is either Roxburghshire in Angus in the 12th century or from MacNicol. Also that Nichols, Nicols, Nicolson and Nicholson are from the name, Nicholas, and from Glasgow and Aberdeen in the 15th century. These names are also from MacNicol and MacLeod.

Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" says that Nicol is from the Latin Nicolas, which is borrowed from the Greek (meaning conquering people). (pg 551)and that Nicolson means son of Nic(h)ol. The Gaelic name MacNeacail or M'Nicail means son of Nicol (pg 551). He goes on to say that a small sept of MacNicols in Skye are now generally called Nicolson. The Nicholsons of skye have Englished their name from MacNicol (pg 629).

Black says there was Malcolum fiz Nicol in 1296, William Nicholai in Glasgow in 1419, patrick Nicholai in Brechin in 1436, Nicholay in 1489, Nicholsoun in 1544, Neclasson in 1547, Niclasson in 1663. (pg 529) MacNicoll in Portree (Isle of skye) was on council of MacDonald of the Isles. A Maknychol received land in Angus in 1470. maknicoll was a witness in Glasgow in 1553, M'Nicoll was in Glenfalloch in 1638, and Nicoll M'Nicoll was in Galdanach in 1672. There is M'Nychol in 1561, M'Nycholl in 1557, M'Nychole in 1546, and M'Nicoll in 1695. Other spellings are Maknichol, Makycholl and MacNickle. David Nycholl was a frater of Cambuskenneth Abbey in 1546, John & alexander Nuckall were in Futtie in 1502, alexander Nicol was in Glasguensis in 1603, William Nuccol was in Cannegleroch in 1640, and James Nickle petitioned the Kirk Session of Auchterhouse to jprotect him against his mother who had abused him by banning, swearing, cursing, and calling him a line and a limer. Reference is also made to Nuckle in 1671, Nuckoll in 1697, and deNicole in 1165. (pg 629)

NORMAN

(See also Tormud, Normand, Norval and Norwell)

A sept of MacLeod of Harris and a derivitive of Normanville according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Norval and Norwell are also derivitives of Normanville, thus a part of Norman.

Black's "The Surnames of Scotland' lists Norman with accreditonary 'd'. Norman is from Old English (Nordmann....a Northman or a Dane). (pg 632
"Scots Kith & Kin connects Normanville with Norman through the relationship of Norval and Norwell. Black confirms this. (pg 632)

Normannus was a witness in 1189, Normand was in Roxburgh in 1303, there was a "trublance" betwixt Normand and another in Dysart in 1600. Norman was also a surname in Dumfriesshire in the 13th century and is also used as an Englishing of Tormod. (pg 632)

NORIE

(See also Norrie, Norreys, Norrey, Nore, Norn, Norris, Noray, Norye, and probably Norad)

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis according to "Scots Kith & Kin". Black's "The Surnames of Scotland" lists the spelling also as Norrie and Norry. Norn and Nory are also derivitives.

According to Black, Norn is a surname formerly in use in Orkney. it is from Old Norse (Norraena) and was apparently used as an alternative for Nory. Nory is an Orcadian surname from Old Norse (Norge) pronounced Norre (Norway). Evidently the name was given originally to a family which came from Norway toward the close of the Norse regime.

Black says Nory held land of Corchrony in 1360, Nory was canon of St. Andrews cathedral in 1415, Nore was a notary in Strathendrick in 1480, Norye was a witness in Perth in 1547, Noray was rector of Ferne in 1589, Nory was chaplain to the King of Norway in 1460, Norre was a tacksman of Evirbustir in 1492, Nory/Nore was a roithman in 1495, Nore was in Kirkwall in 1590, Nory from Orkney was in Aberdeen in 1457. (pg 633)

TASKILL

See MacAskill. A forename derived from Askill

TOLMIE

A sept of MacLeod of Lewis. "Scots Kith & Kin" states it is of local origin. The Tolmie's of the Hebrides are called Clann Talvaich according to Black's "the Surnames of Scotland".

Black also says a John Tolmach took part in a conflict between MacLeods & MacKenzies in 1611 and Androw Tolmi was an officer of Inverness in 1612. (pg 774)

Some say that Tolmie is a derivitive of Ptolmy and comes from the time of Roman conquerers - the Ptolmy being from Egyptian conquests. This is an unfounded theory.

TORMOD

See Norman. An Englished Norman simply because of the like sound according to Black's "The Surnames of Scotland".

WILLIAMSON

Sept of MacLeod of Harris. Williamson means son of William according to Black's "The Surnames of Scotland".

He states that Wilelmi was found in 1317, Williamson in Peebles in 1343, williameson of Angus in 1388, Willelmi in Brechin in 1434, Willyamsone (of Aberdeen) and John Williamson (of Euchemartyn) in England in 1463.
He also says Williamson in Scotland in 1527. Also found in Banniskirk and Caithness. Williamson at St. Cuthberts in Edinburgh and Williamson in military service in France where the name is found as DeVillencon and D'Oillencon. There was a williamson in 1485 also. Other spellings are vilzemsone, Williamsone, Wilyamson, Wilzaimson, Wilzeamsone, Wilzongson, Wyllyamson.