Kindred Groups

Traditional origin narratives stated by Skene (1902)[1], Moncrieffe (1967)[2] and Bannerman (2016)[3], amongst others, have formed the basis of discourse on Scottish kindred groups for generations. Genetic genealogy holds the potential to validate or refute traditional accounts of the early origins of historically significant families and clans, and thereby contribute to our understanding of kin-based societies.

Several traditional kindreds with male line descendant families are or will be explored;

  • Descendants of Crinan the Thane (b late 10th century) - Dunbar, Dundas, Grey, Home, Nevill

  • Descendants of Somerled of the Isles (d1164) – MacDougall, MacDonald, MacRuairi, Clan Alastair of Loup and MacIain of Ardnamurchan.

  • Descendants of Ethelred (d ca1093), son of King Malcolm III (Canmore) – MacDuff, Mackay and Wemyss.

  • Descendants of Aedh ‘Anradhan’ (b early 11th century) – Lamont, Livingstone, MacEwen, Maclachlan, Macleay, MacNeill, MacSorley and MacSweeney.

  • Descendants of Mael Muire of Atholl – Robertson

  • Descendants of Olaf, King of Man & the North Isles (d.1237) – MacLeod, Morrison

  • Early Dál Riata kindred and extant descendant lines.

A certain amount of genetic genealogy research has already been carried out for the first two groups. In the case of the descendants of Crinan the Thane, it has been established that the families of Cockburn, Dunbar, Edgar and Hercus do have common male line ancestry. As far as the descendants of Somerled are concerned, distinct genetic markers of the MacDonalds and the MacDougalls have been identified confirming their shared descent from Somerled.

Further research is planned to investigate the authenticity of traditional claims, which will be of particular interest to present day descendants of the associated clans and families, many of whom will be part of the worldwide Scottish diaspora. Findings will also be relevant to Scottish historical studies in general for the medieval period.   



[1] Skene, William. ed. MacBain, Alexander. (1902) The Highlanders of Scotland. Stirling: Eneas Mackay. p.373.

[2] Moncrieffe, Iain. (1982) The Highland Clans : the dynastic origins, chiefs, and background of the clans and of some other families connected with Highland history. New rev. Ed. London: Barrie & Jenkins.

[3] Bannerman, John, W.M. (2016) Kinship, church and culture : collected essays and studies. Edinburgh: John Donald.