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Scottish Clans Protocol Team

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 16 Mar 2019 [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
Surnames/tags: scottish_clans scottish_clans_protocol_team
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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans Teams > Scottish Clans Protocol Team



Welcome to the page supporting the Scottish Clans Protocol Team. Hopefully you will find the answer to questions you may have and an explanation as to why we do things in a particular way.


The primary goal of the Scottish Clans Protocol Team is to promote the use of accurate and relevant content on profiles of interest to Team Members. The team will keep a watchful eye on profiles of individuals who bear a surname (LNAB) associated with one of the Scottish clans, either through birth or marriage. This will apply not only to those born in Scotland but also the “Scottish diaspora”.

The secondary goal is that when time permits, the team can assist in improving profiles for other individuals born in Scotland or elsewhere in the world bearing what can broadly be described as a “Scottish surname” (LNAB).


Uniform approach

There are many ways in which names are acquired and it is recognised that for few names there is a single “correct” spelling. In relation to Scottish clans, recognised by the Court of the Lord Lyon, the default spelling of the surname (LNAB) will be that used by the relevant Clan Chief and his/her family or by the person(s) administering the clan’s group on Wikitree. Where a person’s surname (LNAB) is different on an official birth record in the country of birth, that spelling will apply. In order to avoid confusion, members should use the “other last name” field to insert other spellings. It is not uncommon to find 2 or even 3 different spellings of surnames within the same generation let alone a wider family or clan.

Prefix field

Should be used where the individual has a recognised prefix such as “Sir”, “Lady”, “Rev”, “Dr” or a military rank. The only men who should have the prefix “Lord” are younger sons of Dukes and Marquises. The only women who should have the prefix “Lady” are the daughters of Dukes, Marquises or Earls”. Where a woman acquires the title “Lady” through marriage that should be reflected in the nickname field and only used if e.g. she was known by that title independently of her husband. Otherwise titles should appear in the biographical section.

In Scotland, traditionally medical doctors are not in fact Doctors but Bachelors of Medicine and Bachelors of Surgery i.e. MB. Ch.B. However by courtesy they tend to be accorded the prefix “Dr.” and that should be used. Similarly in Scotland, the holders of an academic doctorate, whether earned or awarded as an honorary recognition of some achievement are normally referred to as “Dr” rather than Ph.D. or D.D., D.Phil. etc. as is the practice in the USA and other countries. Please use the prefix.

First name field

This should contain just the first Christian or forename of an individual. Where an individual is known by a compound Christian name e.g. “Mary Ann” or “John Angus” please display this in the Preferred name field. There are also many instances, especially among early Wikitree profiles of a Gaelic spelling of a name appearing either in the first name field or middle name field. It should properly appear in the preferred name field.

Preferred name field

This should be used for the name by which the individual was known. Hence Robert Macgregor of Glengyle should have “Rob Roy” in the preferred name field. If someone was known by a Gaelic name, that should appear in the preferred name field.

Other nicknames field

On every occasion, if a person was the holder of a title or territorial designation, in compliance with the current European Aristocrat Project policy, it should appear in this box. If the policy changes this guidance will change. If someone held several titles then only the most senior one should appear here and others be referred to in the Biography. Similarly if someone was known by a Gaelic description then it should appear here either in Gaelic or English. Clan Mackenzie in particular is fond of such names e.g. “Colin of the one eye”. I tend to cut and paste Gaelic names for fear of spelling them incorrectly and causing offence!

Another group who require to be set out in detail are Ministers of the Church of Scotland and senior clergy in the Scottish Episcopal and Roman Catholic Churches. Where the minister was the Parish Minister, in this field it is entirely appropriate to refer to him as e.g. “Minister of Wick”. If he was not a Parish Minister then it should be “Minister at Wick”. Similarly in the other churches there will be “Archdeacon of St Andrews”, “Canon of Inverness”, “Bishop of Argyll and the Isles”, “Cardinal Archbishop of Glasgow” etc. This is especially the case because there is insufficient room in the prefix field for e.g. “Cardinal” and it is inappropriate to abbreviate it in the way Lieutenant General can be abbreviated to “Lt.Gen.”

Middle name field

This is self-explanatory and should be for all other names other than first and surname (LNAB).

Last Name At Birth field

Should in all cases reflect the surname the individual had and the relevant spelling, where known. In the absence of a birth certificate (post 1855) or Old Parochial Register entry (pre 1855) the spelling used by the child’s father if legitimate or mother if illegitimate or not acknowledged by the father, should be used. Where the family did use a compound surname then that is the appropriate surname. In Scotland most compound names are not hyphenated.

Current Last Name field

For almost all men this will remain the surname (LNAB) held at birth. In some cases, e.g. where a man has adopted his father-in-law’s surname in order to succeed to a title or ownership of an estate then it will change.

The most contentious situation is with married women. Under Scots Law a woman keeps her maiden surname for life. However by legal convention in the modern era (post-1855) she almost always automatically took her husband’s surname on marriage unless she was of a higher social status when he would often be expected to take her name. Even though most married women pre-1855 will appear in parish entries under their maiden name it may be that she herself used either or both of her maiden surname and/or married surname . A good guide from 1841 is the census returns. Most married women appear in them under their current married surname.

For woman pre 1855 it is a matter of choice and I would always defer to the Profile Manager, especially if he or she is a direct descendant of the female in question.

Remember almost all records for married women pre-1855 are not evidence of the surname they used but the surname the Church of Scotland chose to use in referring to them. The primary interests of the Church were to avoid fornication, incest and illegitimacy and recorded women’s’ maiden names to highlight pre-existing family links. Many parishes didn’t bother to name the mother on her children’s baptism records because it was the father who determined the status of his children. If in doubt, leave a Scottish woman’s maiden name as her current last name though it does make it less easy to identify her in searches.

In respect of a married woman whose husband owned a landed estate she would invariably be referred to as “Lady X” where X was the name of her husband’s estate not his surname. If the married woman was the wife of a Peer she would be known by the female version of her husband’s peerage.

Other Last Name(s) field

Again self-explanatory and if a woman has been married several times then if possible each married name prior to her final one, should appear. My advice is that if she was married more than 3 times then this should be reflected in the biography.

Suffix field

This should only be used for recognised items such as Orders and Decorations. The suffix “Esq.” has a specific legal meaning in Scotland and applied only to men who were “Gentlemen” invariably members of the untitled nobility i.e. holders of coats of arms without a title.

It is not the practice in Scotland to put a suffix after a man’s name in order to indicate he is e.g. the sixth generation to hold that name, a practice which is commonly adopted in the USA.

It is also not the practice in Scotland to put a suffix after a man’s name to indicate he is e.g. the first holder of a title or territorial designation. For example when Sir Walter Scott was elevated to the rank of Knight Baronet in 1820, he became Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet not Sir Walter Scott, Baronet 1st.

Birth date

There are too many profiles where this is blank. A reasonable estimate should always be inserted in the absence of an actual, documented date. To maintain good practices, if the date is based on siblings or other generational guesses, either the {{Estimated Date}} template can be utilized, or an explicit statement in the bio should be added that will explain how the estimate was arrived at. Common sense should apply. In Scots Law boys could marry at 14 and girls at 12. With the exception of Henry VII’s mother, few women bore children before the age of 15 and very few successfully bore them above the age of 45. If possible check if there is a date of marriage or marriage contract for the parents and base your estimate on that. The eldest son should normally be born within 5 years of the parents’ marriage. The youngest child cannot be born more than 9 or at most 10 months after the father’s death and absolutely no children can be born after the date of the mother’s death!

Birth place

There are too many profiles where what is entered is just nonsense. Either the person who has entered the information has no understanding of Scottish geography or the naming of places and especially counties. For example Ross and Cromarty was only created in 1890. Any reference to that county before 1890 is just nonsense and it would be either Ross-shire or Cromartyshire. Morayshire was for a long time known as Elginshire. Angus was known as Forfarshire. West Lothian was known as Linlithgowshire. In addition someone cannot have been born at a location which did not exist at the time. A man cannot have been born in a castle which was only erected by his grandson!

Death date

This is less important than birth date but where known should be entered, even if using the “before” option. This can often be ascertained from the marriage record of a child where a parent is described as “deceased” or a person described as a “widow” or “widower”.

Death place

The same comments apply as to the location of a person’s birth.

Marriage date

In the absence of a known date, a reasonable estimate should be given because as with birth and death dates, it helps reduce the impossibility of parents marrying while one of them was still a child or after the date of all their children’s’ births with a few notable exceptions. If there is no marriage date but there is a marriage contract either use that date or mark it as “after” that date.

Marriage location

The same logic applies as to birth and death locations.

Biographical details and ancillary matters

There are Clan stickers and Project boxes. The former are the small stickers which should generally be used and the latter which should only be used on profiles where the Clan project is the profile manager. There is a standard set of clan designs and tartans which should be adhered to.

Where a profile displays miscellaneous items which are either simply wrong (e.g. a picture of a castle the individual never lived in) or a coat of arms which was the property of another person (remember there is no such thing as a clan or family coat of arms), the Profile Manager should be contacted privately and encouraged to remove them. If they remain after 7 days then by all means remove them.

Some profiles have a great deal of extraneous information totally irrelevant to the individual profiled. While perhaps not to our taste unless it is factually misleading or simply inaccurate, it is for the Profile Manager to decide whether to retain it or not.

The use of Succession boxes help link profiles and are to be encouraged. This is especially the case where a title or estate passed not from parent to child but to another branch of the extended family due either to the terms of an Entail or the Law on Primogeniture.


Please encourage the use of good sources. While Family Search and online trees can be indicative, they are not primary sources and open to plagiarism with the unhappy result of promoting inaccurate information.

Research Notes

These do not appear very often and can be invaluable because they offer either the Profile Manager or another person an opportunity to give an explanation in a factual manner as to why some comment or detail on the profile may or may not be correct.


If someone has written a special note in the Acknowledgments section, those should not be removed as they are a means of thanking someone for taking the time and putting in the effort of creating or making a substantial contribution to the profile, unless there is something factually incorrect. Removing auto-generated Gedcom Acknowledgements, such as “This person was created through the import of ClanCampbell.ged on 21 February 2015” once the profile has been updated with better sources is acceptable. These will remain in the profile's changes log if there is a need to retrieve them.


Remember all members of the Wikitree community are volunteers. In most cases they genuinely believe what they are posting. Even if we know comments are totally incorrect, please share this information in as sensitive a manner as possible. Wherever possible, communicate your concern about content on a profile to the Profile Manager in a private message. Only post it on the face of the profile if you get no response or a negative response.

If you need guidance or wish to discuss the content of a particular profile, contact Mark, whom failing Maria.


This template is for profiles of people who are members of the Scottish Clans Protocol Team

You can also visit the Scottish Clans Project on Wikitree.

To put this sticker on a profile, copy and paste the following above the biography:

{{Clans Protocol Team}}

This displays the following:

... ... ... Is a member of the Scottish Clans Protocol Team

Here are Profiles and pages using the sticker.

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  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Amy Gilpin, Mark Sutherland-Fisher, and Scotland Project WikiTree. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
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Mark Sutherland-Fisher,

Thank you for sharing your knowledge on Scottish Clans Protocol and your input and contributions to this Space page. Excellent to see.

posted by David Urquhart