Is it Thompson or Thomson?
What is an honourable community?
What is a clan?
Are the Thom(p)sons a clan?
This may seem a stupid question at this point, but.......were Thom(p)sons ever a clan?
Name variations worldwide
Question: Is it Thompson or Thomson?
Answer: Standardization of the spelling of surnames (orthography) came much later than most people realize. Thomson and Thompson are the same name. It is only from the mid-18th century that those north of the Forth and Clyde settled on the spelling Thomson while those further south, and in Ireland and England, adopted Thompson as the standard 200+ years earlier. These are generalizations only. Prior to this time, you can find legal documents with a man's name spelled as Thomson and Thompson (and others) on the same page.
Question: What is an honourable community?
Answer: In brief, an honourable community is a Scottish group recognized as such by Lyon, sharing the same name, and behaving in a way similar to that of a clan that descends from a common ancestor -- even though it does not have a common ancestor. There will be arms believed by Lyon to be the stem arms of the family name, even though no one bears them today, and anyone of the name seeking a grant will, in normal circumstances, receive a differenced version of those stem arms.
Question: What is a clan?
Answer: The official word from Lyon Office is – The clan system is closely bound up with Scottish heraldry. The best definition of a clan provided by a heraldic authority is contained in Nisbet's "System of Heraldry", published in 1722: ‘A social group consisting of an aggregate of distinct erected families actually descended, or accepting themselves as descendants of a common ancestor, and which has been received by the Sovereign through its Supreme Officer of Honour, the Lord Lyon, as an honourable community.
A clan is therefore a community which is both distinguished by heraldry and recognized
by the Sovereign. At the head of this honourable community is the chief. He is the
only person entitled to display the undifferenced shield of Arms; ie without any
marks of dependency upon any other noble house.
Chiefship is a title of honour and dignity within the nobility of Scotland. Any claimant to such a title must establish, to the satisfaction of the Lord Lyon representing the Sovereign, that he or she is entitled to the undifferenced arms of the community over which they seek to preside. It is the determining of chiefship which is among the Lyon Court's central work.
A clan or family. which has a recognized chief or head confers noble status on the clan or family which gives it a legally recognized status and a corporate identity. A corporate body with a chairman/president recognized and granted arms by Lyon Court does have standing in the Scottish community. A family or name group which has no recognized chief has no official position under the law of Scotland only. NOT, the US or anyplace else.
(The last sentence there should not be read as meaning that a clan ceases to be a clan as soon as it loses its chief and cannot immediately choose the rightful successor. Once a clan has a chief whose arms are recognized by a Lord Lyon it remains a clan unless it is officially broken by law -- very unlikely today.)
Question: Are Thom(p)sons a clan?
Answer: There is currently no organized “Clan” Thomson because, currently, no one is recognized as chief by Lyon. However, with the granting of arms to Clan Thompson International, Inc. (a.k.a. Clan Thom(p)son Society) in March 2012 , we are now recognized as a clan society - or, a “clan” without a chief. The next step is to gather Thom(p)son armigers and coordinate a derbhfine with Lyon Court. Once that is achieved, there would be the appointment of a Captain or Commander who would fulfill the duties of the chief until one is (a) recognized by the clansmen and (b) recognized by Lyon as the true bearer of the undifferenced arms of Thomson.
Answer: Yes - they were listed as part of the troublesome border clans in two separate Acts of the Scottish Parliament - one in 1587 and the other in 1594. The clan was in the western Marche area of the borderlands (now Dumfriesshire) and another large group was located in Lothian (just sourth of Edinburgh around Melrose/Jedburgh area). The document will be posted here as we get the time. They were a border clan - probably didn’t speak Gaelic or wear kilts, but had just as strong a family or “clan” ties as the highlanders and were recognized as a community under one name.
Were there any earlier mentions?
Answer: Again - yes. We were listed as one of the Border Clans of 1547 in “The Scotch-
Irish Families of America” by Charles A. Hannah. Click here for the Google digitized page.
Notice - in 1547 we are listed in Eskdale but in 1597 we are in Annandale.
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