WHAT IS A SEPT?
The following is a copy of a summation of an article in the book A LIST OF CLANS AND SEPTS OF SCOTISH HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND by Frank Adams and Ennis of Le Amey. The writer of the summation, John Allen Killough, one of the founders of the Killough reunion group meeting in Jacksonville, TX, did extensive research on the Killough name.
The word Clan means children of or family in Gaelic. Only the blood relatives of the Chief make up the true clan. The Septs are the main work force for labor and for the army for protection. There is nothing democratic in the clan system. The Chief owns all land and property and gives every family its place in the clan. Authority in the clan goes to the family and not to any individual. The Chief picks his head family early and all families following are under all families picked ahead of them.
There are four groups of families. Number 1 is the military leaders. Number 2 food producers in cattle. Number 3 farming. Number 4 were the plain soldiers. They came from the Sept class. Most families in the Septs were first class slaves to all families listed above them. The higher ranked Septs or families would be served first to all things given out by the head men in the clan. All families were numbered and that showed their position or status in the clan. The larger the position or status in the clan, the smaller the number. The less important in the clan and less authority the Sept had, the larger their number.
MacCeallaigh is the original name that later became MacKelloe in Scotland and later Killough in Ireland and is spelled many different ways since then. In the MacDonald Clan, there are eleven Septs with thirty nine families ahead of the MacCealleigh in prestige in the clan. In all, there are 111 families with 48 different ranks.
Only a MacDonald could wear the full MacDonald plaid tartan. All others were tartans that showed their work as soldiers, herdsmen, farmers or craftsmen. A small amount of the MacDonald plaid showed on all tartans to show that they belonged to the MacDonald Clan.
There is a disagreement here with the origin of the Killough name. Edward MacLyaht, writer of SUPPLEMENT TO IRISH FAMILIES says Killough comes from the Scottish name MacKellock, which is in sixty-sixth place in the list of families. In the rank of Septs, MacCeallaigh is twelfth and MacKellock is twenty-first.