September 2014

In this Issue:

 The Clans  Coming Events
 Meet Our Members  September Celebrations
 Rise & Fall of William Wallace (Part 1)  Society Officers
 August 2014 Meeting - Debate  Flowers of the Forest

The Clans

Sometimes history and romance combine, bringing legend to life.  It is so with the Highland Clans.  The two words evoke images of tartan-clad Jacobites, fired by fervent patriotism, brandishing claymores as they rush joyously to war, urged on by the skirl of the pipes.

To get an accurate idea of the Scottish clan system, however, we have to go back to Pictish times around the reign of King Malcolm Canmore (1058-1093).  It was during this period that surnames were introduced and extended families—or clans—evolved.  They formed the basic structure of Highland society for the best part of the next 1,000 years.

Tracing the lineage of the different clans, one finds few common ancestors.  The MacLeods, for instance, derive from Norsemen while the Murrays and Sutherlands are descended from Flemish stock.  The Bruces, Chisholms and Frasers claim ancestry from both Norman and Angevin lines.  The Chattans and the MacMillans descend from old Celtic ecclesiastical office-bearers, and the Royal House of Stewart can be raced back to a Breton nobleman.

The Gaelic word clanna means "children," with the implication of a family or extended family.  The belief was that all members of a clan descend from one patriarch.  The direct descendents of the patriarch were referred to as "native men."  "Broken men" were individuals whose ancestors hailed from clans that had dispersed.  Seeking safety, they pledged allegiance to the local chief.  When they married into the clan, their descendents carried the bloodline.

The principal men of the clan were called the "derbhfine."  In effect, they were the royal family, and it was from this group that the next chief was chosen.  Below the royals were the lesser chieftains and below them, the "duine-uasail."  These were the gentlemen of the clan—each with a small plot of land.  At the bottom were the ordinary clansmen.

Although most clans belonged to the Highlands, there were families in the Borders and Lowlands who also wore the tartan.  Here, however, there was no belief that a clan all descended from one patriarch.  Although the clan chief in these areas could count on an army of clan members when called, the society was organized on the feudal system with feudal obligations.

Meet Our Members

Harold Stewart - Past President and Honorary Life Member

Harold StewartMy wife Pam and I began our relationship with the Caledonian Society in the mid 1990's.  Pam operated a small travel agency and had an opportunity to visit Scotland.  Through those travels we became committed to learning more about Scotland and how that heritage is celebrated in this country.  The best way to do that was to join the Caledonian Society.

I was honored to serve as president for six years and had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of those who had built and maintained the society.  At times I served as President and Games Chair simultaneously.  Some of the most satisfying moments were the completions of a successful Highland Games and Gathering, hosting the Ayrshire Orchestra for a concert and enjoying the company of others who were proud of their Scottish ancestry.

The Rise and Fall of William Wallace (Part 1)

The Royal Burgh of Lanark is one of the oldest settlements in Scotland and has played a decisive part in Scotland's history.  In 978, when Kenneth II was king, Lanark was the site of the first recorded meeting of a Scottish parliament.  The burgh received its royal charter in about 1140.  But its main claim to fame is that it was in Lanark, in 1297, that William Wallace first took up arms to free Scotland from the yoke of the English.

William Wallace statue The history of Britain up until that time was one of a gradual amalgamation of small kingdoms into larger ones.  By some point in the 13th century, only three kingdoms were left; Scotland, England and Wales.  The English saw this as a natural progression and believed that eventually the kingdoms would amalgamate to form one nation-state on the island now called Britain.  The problem was that the English wanted their own kingdom to be the nation-state; to achieve it, they would need to absorb the other two.  Not surprisingly, the Welsh and the Scots had other ideas. 

On March 19, 1286, Alexander III of Scotland was fatally injured when his horse stumbles over a cliff at Kinghorn in Fife.  As Alexander's first wife Margaret, daughter of Henry III of England had died, along with her three children, his sole heir was his seven-year-old granddaughter.  The young princess, Margaret Maid of Norway, was the child of Alexander's daughter Margaret and Eric II of Norway.  Six guardians had been appointed to watch over Margaret and also govern Scotland should the king die while she was still young.  Unfortunately, she was never crowned because she died en route from Bergen to Scotland.  She was the last of the Celtic royal line, and the country was left with no heir to the throne. 

Just a few months before, it had been arranged that Margaret would marry Edward, son of Edward I of England.  The goal of the marriage was unification of the two kingdoms.  When Margaret's guardians now approached the English king and asked him to decide on a rightful heir, Edward saw his chance to accomplish this.  The king appointed John Balliol, whom he believed he had in his pocket.  What's more, the king made it clear that he, Edward himself, would be overlord of Scotland.  King John ruled Scotland from 1292 until 1296 and Edward discovered that John was less in his pocket than he thought.  John refused to help Edward in his war with France and had actually signed a treaty with France, the beginning of the Franco-Scottish "Auld Alliance."

To the English king, who saw himself as overlord of Scotland, anyone who opposed him was a traitor.  He invaded Scotland in March 1296.  The subsequent Battle Dunbar effectively ended Scots resistance.  John was stripped of his kingship and Scotland became little more than a colony of England.

At the time, a man named William Wallace was living in Lanark.  He was not a member of Scotland's aristocracy.  He came from a minor land-owning family in either Renfrewshire or Ayrshire.

August 2014 Debate

The August meeting of the Society was turned into a debate.  The subject?  "Should Scotland become an independent nation?"  The people of Scotland will vote on this question this September 18th, but the Scots of Arizona were going to make up their minds in August.  Society members and other interested parties were divided on this complex question.

Drew Leathum, an interested party who is not Scottish, came dressed as Scottish patriot, William Wallace.  He delivered the famous, fiery speech from the 1995 film "Braveheart".     

Society member, John Clinkenbeard, who was born and raised in Edinburgh, but has lived in Arizona the past four years stated, "We definitely needed to have this debate."  The debate was set up to give both sides and equal voice on the issue.  Six society members participated in the debate with three representing yes and three no.  Four of the six were actually from Scotland, including the Society's president Mark Clark. The debaters covered energy issues, currency debates, transportation matters and questions on European Union and U.N. membership, among many others.

At the end of the night, the members voted.  The numbers came in: 28 yes, 11 no.  If it were up to Arizona, Scotland would be independent.  In reality, though, only two of those voters get to vote on the real thing:  Lori Cameron, who lives in Phoenix temporarily and is a resident of Scotland, has already submitted her ballot—"Yes" Aand John Clinkenbeard—who also is from Scotland and is moving back to Scotland and will be there in plenty of time before the vote.  He's still undecided.  The Clinkenbeard family is in the process of moving back to Edinburgh for a business opportunity.  They have contributed greatly to the Society and will be missed, but we wish them best.   


Flowers of the Forest

Robert "Bob" McKinley, a long time member of the Society passed away on July 17 at age 81.  Bob had been a United States Marine and a graduate of Alfred University.  He married Penny (whose passing was reported in the July edition) in 1956.  Bob was very active in the Society for many years and was Games Chairman for several years.  We extend our sympathy to his family and many friends.

Coming Events

September 4-7 Estes Park CO Games
September 11 Membership Meeting
September 20 Fresno CA Games
October 9 Membership Meeting
October 10-11 Ventura CA Games
Oct 31 - Nov 2 Tucson Games

SOCIETY MEETING Regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. Beginning at 6:30 pm. Come join us or log on to

September Celebrations
If you would like your special date recognized in our monthly newsletter, we need to hear from you. Please let us know your correct birthday and anniversary information by email to and it will be included in our Celebration list.

September 11 Alan Ramsdell - Birthday (Life Member)
September 14 Robert LaVar - Birthday
September 21 Michelle Campbell - Birthday (Past President)
September 26 Harold Stewart - Birthday (Past President)
September 30 Ginni Caldwell - Birthday

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
Vice President, & Membership Chair Don Finch
Secretary: John Clinkenbeard
Treasurer: David McBee
Games Chair
Paul Bell
Trustee 1: Mark Pelletier
Trustee 2: Michelle Crownhart
Trustee 3: Thom von Hapsburg

Newsletter Editor:

Jo Ramsdell
Statutory Agent: Dan Miller