The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

The Borders family Bell may well descend from a Norman follower of David I who reigned until 1153 and was, by the end of the thirteenth century, well established in Dumfriesshire, Berwickshire and Perthshire.

Although the Bells were a Borders family, there are others of this name who are of Highland origin, and in that case, Bell is held to be a Sept of MacMillan.

Determining which surnames are septs of a clan is one of the prerogatives of the clan chief. Clan Douglas, while an armerigious (arms-bearing) family recognized as a clan by the Lord Lyon of Scotland, currently has no standing chief. Without a standing chief, nor a world-wide association, The Clan Douglas Society of North America (CDSNA) has selected certain guidelines in determining the surnames it accepts as Septs of Clan Douglas.

Clan Bell is an armigerous (arms-bearing) Scottish clan without a standing chief and is not recognized by The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. Not listed in the 2009 CDSNA bylaws; the surname is still listed by Clan Douglas Association of Australia (CDAA) as a sept of Douglas, and is included in the list in the Douglas Archives.

Harold Edington, CDSNA Septs Project Coordinator, has put forward a case for the Bells to be acknowledged as a sept.

Case for inclusion: Bell_sept.doc

CDSNA sept booklet: Flipbook

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Comment by William Douglas on March 17, 2012 at 17:03


I have lost my sign in details for the CDSNA website, and am waiting to be signed up again so I can respond to your article there about Septs.

Comment by Harold Edington on March 17, 2012 at 16:50

Here is a quick read for justifying Bell as a sept of Douglas.

The historical record is replete with references of the Bells as followers/retainers of the Douglas lords.  As a result of such historical evidence, in 1983 or 1984 Col. William Bell provided documentation for Bell’s inclusion as a sept of Douglas and petitioned the CDSNA Board for acceptance. When the Clan Bell society formed in the early 1990s, CDSNA was asked by Clan Bell and Col. William Bell to remove Bell as a Sept because, it was argued, the Bells "were never a sept of Douglas but retainers of Douglas". Really, there is little difference in the two terms when one compares the function of both words. Regardless, CDSNA removed Bell from its list, although CDAA (Clan Douglas Association of Australia) did not (and I applaud CDAA). 

Comment by Harold Edington on February 20, 2012 at 2:12

IF anyone IS upset, I would like to know why and would be most interested in any evidence/documentation that supports inclusion of those names. In my opinion, every name placed on a 'sept' list should have documentation to support such a claim. 

Comment by William Douglas on February 19, 2012 at 11:34

There is a continuing debate about Douglas septs on Wikipedia -

Alexander, Drongan, Hardy, Hardie, Henry, Hixson, Irwin, and McConnachie have all been deleted today from Wikipedia's list of Douglas septs.

Anyone upset?

Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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