WHERE IS OUR CLAN CHIEF?

“The Ancient Family of Cleland” by John Burton Cleland 1905, “Seven Centuries of the Kneeland Family ” by Stillman Foster Kneeland LL.D 1897 and “John Cleland – Images of a Life” by William H Epstein 1974 are good reference material.

The Society has members world wide and as yet has no other contact address other than this. I have in place a process of putting members in touch with each other should they wish as some are not too happy about being approached by ‘FAMILY’ who do not turn out to be ‘FAMILY’.

Many of our members are getting on in years and are following their Scottish roots as a hobby and in many cases they have been ‘stung’ by organizations, especially in the USA, who purport to be something which they are not. Therefore I do not wish to establish branch offices until such time as we are very capable of handling the situation to the members satisfaction.

I have had an interesting piece of information which should help in the search for our Clan Chief and that is a reference to a “Memorial for Cleland of that Ilk (1737)” in a document called “A Midlothian Village (Corstorphine) 1890 ” by a G.U. Selway.

Corstorphine is now, what would be called, a suburb of Edinburgh and it is quite likely Alexander Cleland finished his days up there when he retired from Government service.

His son John stayed in London but what with the political intrigue that was going on at the time it is more than likely Alexander thought it better to get out of town as he had been playing both sides of the scene with a leaning towards those in Scotland who believed in re-establishing the Parliament.

He was in an ideal position to receive information and pass it on to whom ever he felt would do the most good and it was only four years after his death (1741) that Bonnie Prince Charlie lead the Highlanders down the slippery slope to annihilation at Culloden (1746).

Perhaps our ancestor and last Clan Chief was instrumental in encouraging Charles to raise the gold to start the process or was he involved in sending the British Army to Europe to get them out of the way. The Black Watch had been sent to France for some reason or another therefore they were not in Scotland at the time of the Highlanders and mainly Catholic army took on the Government forces.

But, he says, the Clelands were Covenanters and far from being Catholic. So what was going on at the time. Oh for a time machine.

Anyway the “Memorial for Cleland of that Ilk (1737)” may have some clues.

We need to find out if John had children if not then if his brother (Henry) or sister (Charlotte) did. They were last heard of going to the Indies or India and it is believed they too ‘died unwed and without’ to coin a phrase.

This means we have to go back to John’s father William Cleland, last to matriculate Arms in 1717, and dying in 1741. William had a younger brother and if the above details on William’s children are correct then we have to search out William’s brother’s line and then we may find our chief.

All this aside it is possible for each and every Cleland to matriculate their own Arms and the Lord Lyon in Scotland will facilitate this for a fee of around 3,000 pounds.

The process that has to be gone through to become what is called an ‘Armiger’ or bearer of family Arms is to first establish a link to the main family (no matter how far back) this will probably cost in the region of 3,000 pounds, them draw up your Coat of Arms based on the original but with differences which mean something heraldic and special to you and then submit all of this information to the Lord Lyon for verification by his independent assessors (You pay for this work as well hence the other 3,000 pounds).

Then when all has been ratified you will be presented with your Arms, pennants etc. and be entitled to wear a single eagle feather in your bonnet when you are wearing your kilt and have your Coat of Arms on your stationary, car, front gate etc.

If there are any members who are prepared to go through this process I will be happy to provide them with the full details of how to proceed but if they have the funds to spend on such a venture they could probably spend the same amount and more than likely prove who our Clan Chief is or isn’t. Personally I would see this as a more constructive use of funds however each to his/her own.

There have been some interesting developments on the McLellan and McLennan fronts and I have made it known that the Clan Cleland Society cautions all concerned to check the facts prior to claiming various spellings of these three families as their own. I believe the society has reached a very good understanding with the McLellans yet the McLennans have some major internal turmoil to sort out amongst themselves.

I have sent various pieces of documentary evidence (letters from the Lord Lyon etc.) to some McLennan researchers therefore the records should be put straight soon.

James McNab of McNab was the first to put me on the track of our Clan Chief as it was he who first told me we were an Ancient Family in our own right and held allegiance to no on save the Crown. He informed me that the Clelands were the hereditary foresters to the Earls of Douglas in Lanarkshire. This involvement probably arose with the intermarriage of the families and as the main aim was the retention of land titles ‘friendly’ marriages were arranged.

Clan Chiefs through the ages

Alexander Kneland b 1230-1240

James Kneland b 1260-1270

John Kneland b circa 1290

John Kneland b 1320

John Kneland b circa 1360

William Kneland b 1405

James Cleland b circa 1425

William Cleland b 1451

Alexander Cleland – Died Flodden 1513

James Cleland – Died 1547

Alexander Cleland – Chief of that Ilk 1547-1597

William Cleland – Chief of that Ilk 1597 – 1608

James Cleland – Chief of that Ilk 1608

Alexander Cleland – died 1634

William Cleland b circa1621

James Cleland b circa 1645

John b circa 1692

William (Matriculated Arms 1717) died 1741

John Cleland (Author of Fanny Hill)