Clan Leslie Society
Australia & New Zealand


The Leslie Septs

Sept is defined as: a term formerly used by anthropologists to refer to a cluster of lineages that claimed a common male ancestor. But unlike a Scottish clan that theoretically does claim descent from a common male ancestor, sept members, in the Scottish context , are not necessarily blood relations.

Septs can be a contentious subject, there are no hard and fast rules as to who may or may not call themselves a sept. The approval of the Clan Chief and acceptance of the Lord Lyon are all that is usually required. The most usual route to becoming a sept is marriage, the other main reason is dependence for protection i.e. man rent. Members of a sept are full members of the clan in every way. The marriage course is self evident, a lady marrying into a clan will often bring with her relatives and retainers dependent upon her. Man rent came about when a person or family (or even a minor clan) came to depend on a stronger neighbor for their protection. With the origins of the clan being based on family values, it can be seen that the Chief was unlikely to question the name or origin of a willing helper in time of need. By the middle of the 15th century these arrangements were often formalized by Bonds of Man rent - formal recognition of obligations due.

Septs need not have exclusive association with a particular clan, instances of families of the same name having association with more than one clan are quite common.

After the Highlanders defeat at Culloden (1746) the clan system was suppressed and with it the importance of Septs. Interest in both was renewed in the 19th century when Sir Walter Scott invited King George lV to Edinburgh thus reawakening interest in Scotland and all things Scottish. This was continued by Queen Victoria, whose love of Scotland was legendary and who made everything Scottish fashionable.

There are five Leslie Septs: Abernethy, Bartholomew, Cairney, Lang and More. None are exclusively Leslie Septs. Bartholomew stems from the founder while the others came about through marriage.