What is a sept?

This is one of the most common questions people ask. Essentially, a clan is a collection of families, living in a more or less defined area, and loyal to a specific chief. The most powerful family (which is also usually the wealthiest) carries the name of the clan – in our case, the MacLeods. Other families with different but related surnames that belong to the clan are referred to as “septs.”

Just because your name isn’t MacLeod doesn’t mean that your family doesn’t have a historic link to the clan! Likewise, even if you share a sept name you might not be of a family that was specifically involved with the Clan MacLeod. People acquired surnames in all sorts of ways. We encourage you to research your personal genealogy, itself a fascinating and rewarding experience.

Above all, we welcome all persons who express an interest in joining the Clan MacLeod.

Note: Spellings can vary. Mac and Mc are interchangeable. In the past M’ was also used.

Much of the following information is taken from the publications ‘Scots Kith and Kin’ and ‘The Surnames of Scotland’. Other sources are available.


(Also known as Callum, Callam, MacCallum, Challum, MacAllum, Gillecallum, MacGillechallum, MacCalman, Malcolm, and MacAlman) Sept of MacLeod of Lewis, as well as Clan MacCallum and Clan Malcolm, according to “Scots Kith & Kin”. Black’s “The Surnames of Scotland” says Allum is a curtailed form of MacCallum through the form MacAllum and that MacCallum is a derivitive of Macgillechallum and Gillecallum.


(See also Bethune, Beton, Betha and Bethea) A sept of MacLeod of Harris. This sept is also associated with Clan MacBeth.


(See also Harrold, MacHarold, Harald, Haraldson, Herrald, MacRalte and MacRaild) A sept of MacLeod of Harris. Haraldson (son of Harold) is also associated with MacLeod according to Black who also indicated Harold is an Anglicisation of MacRaild).


(See also MacLewis) A sept of MacLeod of Lewis. This sept is also considered a part of Clan Stewart.


(Also known as Andie, MacKande, Makcandy, MacKandy, MacHandie) A sept of MacLeod of Harris


(See also MacAsgill, MacKaskill, McCaskill, MacCaskie, Caskie, Kasky, MaKasky, and Taskill) A sept of MacLeod of Lewis. Also known as Clann t-Asgaill. Taskill is also a derivitive of MacAsgill. The name is Gaelic (MacAsgaill) derived from the personal name of Askell (sacrificial vessel of the gods).
Find out more about the MacAskill’s of Rubh’ an Dùnain Society.


(See also Aulay, Caulay, MacAlley, MacAllay, MacCaulay, MacCauley, MacAuley, Calley, Coll, and MacCorley) Only the MacAulays of Lewis are a sept of MacLeod of Lewis.


A sept of MacLeod of Lewis. Primarily Irish, the McCabes were a branch of the MacLeods of Arran who appear to have migrated to Ireland in the 14th century.


(See also MacCuaig, MacKaig, MacCrivag, MacCowig, MacCoig and MacQuigg) A sept of MacLeod of Harris. MacCaig (MacDbubhaig) means son of Blackie.


(See also Caskie, Kasky, MacKasky, MacAskey, Askie, and MacAskill) A sept of MacLeod of Lewis.


(Also see McClure, MacLure, MacLur, MacAlear, MacLeur, MacLewer, MacClewer) A sept of MacLeod of Harris


(See also McCorkie, MacKerkyll, MacCorkindale, MacCorkle, MacOrkill, MacKorkyll, and McKurkull) Clan MacCorkill has its own Society and Chief. MacCorkills emanating from Argyll may not be families specifically associated with Clan MacLeod. However, The Clan MacLeod Societies remain welcoming to people of these names who wish to join. MacCorkills are also associated with Clan Gunn.


(See also MacCorquodale, MacCorcadail, Corquodale and MacThorcadail) A sept of MacLeod of Lewis However, while Black’s “The Surnames of Scotland” lists Corquodale it indicates no evidence of any relationship between MacCorkindale and its derivitives and the Clan MacLeod.


(See also MacRimmon, Crimmon, Grimmond, Grimman, Griman, MacGrimman, Cremmon, MacCrummen, and MacGrymmen) A sept of MacLeod of Harris.  Hereditary pipers to MacLeod of MacLeod.


(See also McCullie, MacKullie, MacKilliam, MacWillie, MacWylie, MacWilliams, and Williamson) A sept of MacLeod of Harris.


A sept of MacLeod of Lewis.


(See also Tormod, Tormud, Normand, Norval, and Norwell).

Historically, the earliest records of the surname Norman in Scotland seem to place them on the border with England, whence they would appear to have migrated northwards, further into Scotland, but always in the Lowlands. However, modern research has failed to finds any evidence of a connection with Clan MacLeod. The linkage to the listing of Norman as a MacLeod Sept which stretches back over the last century may have come from the fact that the name Tormod (which is the Gaelic form of a Norse name) was the big name amongst the MacLeods, and was used amongst almost all of the branches of the clan. Early compositors of books on Scottish Septs made the error of connecting this with Norman being a Sept of Clan MacLeod and without scrutiny it has been perpetuated ever since. This entry remains because of the long-standing nature of this association and its repetition in many sources of reference.


(See also Norie, Norreys, Norrey, Nore, Norn, Norris, Noray, Norye, and probably Norad) A sept of MacLeod of Lewis.


(See also Tolme, Tolmach) A sept of MacLeod of Lewis. Of claimed descent from the MacLeods of Gairloch. Also known as Clan Talvaich. Possibly from the Gaelic ‘tuilm’ for an island near the shore or other geographic prominence.

Other names formerly associated with Clan MacLeod

Nicol (see also Nichol(s), Nicoll, Nicholl, Nicolson, Nicholson, McNychol, MacNickle, MacNichol, Necolson, Nicollsoun, Nucolsone, Nuckall, Nuccol, Nickle, and deNicole) has been associated with Clan MacLeod and was at one time considered a sept of MacLeod of Lewis. MacNicol is also associated with Clan MacFie (originally of Clan Alpin). The MacNicol Clan has its own chief.