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January 7, 2017

Why a ‘Learned Family’ instead of a Clan?

  • While the definition of a clan is fairly loose and could fit the Curries in terms of a shared surname pointing back to a common ancestor, a learned family describes who we are more precisely and explains why we have not had more formal recognition or a chief. Members of learned families were closely associated with various clans by serving in specialized roles even though they were not related to a clan by blood. For example, the Beatons were a learned family of physicians.
  • The Curries were a learned family of bards –a role that involved more than playing the clarsach and singing a few songs to provide entertainment at feasts, but included maintaining authoritative genealogies and histories for the clans they served. Not all Curries were bards, any more than all Beatons were physicians, but clans recognized that these learned kindred were the ones that passed down the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill these important roles that the clans themselves could not fill from their own ranks.
  • In contrast to clans such as Clan Donald or Clan Campbell whose chiefs claimed direct allegiance among the bearers of the name within a region, particularly to fight under their leadership, learned kindred such as the Curries were more dispersed, without hereditary lands or a chief as such or an obligation to fight together as a family.

Rev. Dr. David A. Currie

Chaplain, Clan Currie Society