Re: Scottish Scout Uniform (Long)
Rodger Morris (rodger@FISHNET.NET)
Fri, 13 Sep 1996 01:16:13 -0700
At 05:31 PM 9/12/96 +0100, you wrote:
>Technically the tartan should only be worn by those entitled by descent
>to wear it. In Scotland wearing a tartan that is not yours is considered
>bad manners. Not so long ago you would have had your throat cut and be
>dumped in a ditch ...
The association of tartans with the various clans is actually an artifact
of the Scottish Romantic Revival of the 1830s. Before then, one could not
tell what clan a person belonged to by looking at the tartan he was
wearing. Instead, one had to look and see what plant he was wearing
affixed to his cap (called a "bonnet"). My clan, Clan Gordon, wore ivy.
Here is one short anecdote to illustrate this:
A fallen Scots highlander who had lost his bonnet was approached by
Campbells (English allies at the battle of Culloden in 1746, the Scots'
Waterloo) who were bayoneting all of the wounded rebels. He held out his
hand and cried, "Hold, lads! I'm one of ye!!" They refrained from killing
him and replied, "Sorry, laddie! Without your bonnet, we couldnae tell
which side you were on!!"
>The Scout Tartan is registered and may be worn by any Member of The Scout
>Association in Scotland who is not entitled by descent to wear a clan tartan.
>To qualify one must have a grandparent who is of the relevant clan.
As I posted before, all Scouts and Scouters may wear McLaren tartan,
pursuant to permission granted by their former clan chief which has never
been rescinded. When William F. Dubois McLaren, then a commissioner in
the Scouting movement, heard that clanless Scouts in Scotland were being
harassed and told that they could not wear a tartan, he is reported to
"Rubbish!! Scouting is a brotherhood. Since they are my brothers, they
are members of my clan and may wear the McLaren tartan!"
Or words to that effect. Since he was then Clan Chief of the McLaren's,
he was well within his historical rights and prerogatives to allow
persons not related by blood to his clan to affiliate with them and to
wear the McLaren tartan and clan insignia. This often happened centuries
ago in the Scottish highlands. The families not related to the clansmen
by blood but oathbound to them were part of an allied "sept" of the clan.
In my case, for example, one speaks of belonging to "Sept Morris of
>Any of the subjects of HM Queen Elizabeth may wear the " hunting Stuart "
Even if one cannot directly trace Scottish clan descent, the Scots clan
associations recognize anybody who has a surname that is connected with
a Scottish clan as being eligible to join that clan society. For example,
the surname "Morris" is considered to be a sept of both Clan Buchanan
and Clan Gordon (aka "The House of Gordon"). My nieces and nephew may
join the Clan Buchanan Society and/or the Clan Gordon Society because
they are Morris's on their mothers' sides.
There is a Boy Scout troop in Occonneechee Council in North Carolina that
is a pipe and drum corps, called "The Occonneechee Highlanders". They
wear kilts in the modern McLaren tartan together with BSA uniform shirts
and BSA long stockings. They have competed in Grade V piping competitions
in various highland games. The Clan McLaren Society has raised no
objection to the Scouts wearing the tartan of that clan.
When I was piping with the Los Angeles & District Pipe Band, I wore
Hunting Thompson, which was and is the band tartan. I have no Thompson
ancestry. I doubt that anybody in the band does either. Nobody has ever
objected to our wearing that tartan.
The preceding discussion has been somewhat off topic, but it _is_
peripherally related to Scouting.
1) If you want to buy a kilt and
2) You're not of Scottish descent and
3) You don't want to offend some ignorant person who believes that tartans
have identified clans since time immemorial and
4) You are a Scout or Scouter
go ahead and buy a kilt in McLaren tartan.
Otherwise, buy a kilt in whatever tartan you like.
Yours in Scouting,
Rodger Morris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Scoutmaster, Troop 852 Woodbadge 416-18
Ventura County Council Philmont, 1973
Camarillo, California, USA "I used to be a Beaver..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City