" Mac " or " Mc "

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What  is  a  sept ?

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" Mac "  or  " Mc "
 
 
Many people have the mistaken idea that Mac and Mc indicate wheather a family is Irish or Scotish, Catholic or Protestant.  This may be true in some cases, but there is no reason to expect it to be true.  Mc is merely a shortened version of Mac.

M'  was also used the same way, but has fallen into disuse.  Mac is also sometimes spelled Mack or Mak.  In Irish it becomes Mag or Meig and somtimes incorrectly O.
 
Mac is is simply an anglicised version of a Gaelic word meaning " son of."
 
Some write " Mc " as " Mc " and I have seen elaborate explanations,
but the simple fact is that it derives from 19th Century typesetting.
Abreviations often written that way as " St " or " Ste " the raised letters
often have a line or dot under them this was done to for visual balance.

There is also " Nic " which is the feminine equivalent of " Mac " meaning
" daughter of. "  It is seldom used any more, but in older documents you may come across it.  " Nic " can also be found abreviated as " Nc " and " N' . "

" My family allways spelled it . . . "
 
One should not be too stuck on the idea that
" my branch of the family allways spelled it . . .".
 
The vast majority or recods were written by clerks who did not know
or care how they spelled their name.  They simply wrote it as they
thought it should be.  Even when people wrote their own name
it is not uncommon to see it spelled one way sometimes and another
way at other times. Sometimes you will see some ones name written
several different ways in the  same document.

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What  is  a  sept ?

A sept is a family that is attached to a larger clan, often for protection.  Sept families may be branches of another clan or a clan in their own right.  They may or may not be related by blood, but there would likely have been many marriages between the two families.  Some traded services.  The Beatons were physicians and the Rankins were pipers.  These families were sometimes associated with more than one family, for example the Beatons are associated with the MacLeans, the MacDonalds, and the MacLeods.  Sept is often used incorrectly to refer to variants of the clan surname or cadet branches.  It should refer to these smaller associated families.
The term " Sept " is said by some to refer only to Irish clans, but it is the term used by Lord Lyon, who has the final word on such matters in Scotland.

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