A Ceann tighe is the head of a large branch of a Scottish clan or tribe, and the term (in case your Scottish Gaelic is a little rusty) translates as chieftain.
Some of the larger clans have had a number of Ceann tighes or chieftains going back centuries; but others are more recent appointments. A Ceann tighe is appointed by a clan chief who is at the top of the hierarchy. Chiefs traditionally ruled the clans, originally much as a native American tribal chief would do, as the steward of the territory held by his people.
This changed to a more feudal type of system around the time of the Stuart monarchs of Scotland, and currently the designation of Scottish Chief is a title of nobility recognized by the Crown. The title was bestowed in the past on the eldest son, but more recently has been bestowed upon female offspring. For example, Arabella Kincaid, chief of Clan Kincaid. Scottish chiefs often but not always also hold the title of a Scottish feudal baron, a separate and distinct minor title of Scottish nobility, as well as other titles such as marquess, duke, earl, etc.
In the case of Clan Lamont, the clan to which the Burdens have been a major family (or “sept”) since 1400. Our chief is Father Peter Noel Lamont of that Ilk who resides in Rydalmere, Australia. This could have presented some geographical challenges in handling chiefly duties. However, Clan societies in Scotland, Canada, the United States, France, and Australia carry the torch for the clan.
Recently, to revitalize clan activities in the Americas, I have been working with Scott Turner, also with the executive of the Clan Lamont Association but based in the United States. The Turners are also a sept of Clan Lamont. Scottish descendants in North America number in the tens of millions and there are organized Highland games all through the Americas and even beyond, including South America, Australia, Africa, and even Malaysia!
Additionally, I recently accepted the position of Father Peter’s representative on the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, which involves a visit every summer to Edinburgh, and a meeting followed by luncheon at the Royal Scots Club.
In acknowledgement of the efforts made by Scott and I over past years, Chief Peter has appointed us respectively as High Commissioners for the United States and Canada as modern-day Ceann tighes.
General guidelines suggest that those of the status of chief wear three eagle feathers in their Scottish hat or “bonnet”, hence the old expression, “a feather in your cap.” Chieftains wear two feathers and those who have a grant of arms from Lord Lyon, the Crown Minister who controls such things in Scotland, are entitled to wear one eagle feather. While golden eagle feathers are traditional, my own two feathers come from a bald eagle. I should note that these feathers were legally obtained from the Nova Scotia Provincial Department of Wildlife, and no birds were deliberately harmed. My feathers were a gift from Chief Robert Gloade of the native Nova Scotian tribe, the Mik’maw. I believe that Scott Turner is still trying to acquire his eagle feathers due to US laws. With this in mind, I sent him a few Canada goose feathers that had been left on our cottage’s lawn by generous migrating geese.
Below is a list of the various families which belong to Clan Lamont. If interested in exploring your roots, please consider becoming a member of your local Clan society.
The next list is one of surnames associated with Clan Lamont. Note that many of these names are also associated with other clans.
Aldownie, (and Aldowny)
Luckie, (and Lucky)
MacClammie, (and MacClammy)
MacCluckie, (and MacClucky)
MacGorie, (and MacGory)
Mackquein (Aliased as Lamont)
MacIlwham (and Wham)
MacLammie, (and MacLammy)
MacLuckie, (and MacLucky)
Meikleham, (and Meiklehem)
Meiklem, (and Maiklem)
Sorlie, (and Sorly)
First 3 photos courtesy of Stella Burden-van der Lugt—all rights reserved.
Scott Turner photo by Tammy Miller Turner—all rights reserved.