Septs to Scottish clans were generally smaller families that pledged support to a larger clan – and received protection from the larger clan in return. The Earls of Lennox controlled a large area of Scotland around Loch Lomond extending to the south of the River Clyde. Many families in this region would have been expected to support to the Lennox earls, and would have been considered septs. Also, history records that the Lennox earls were involved in military battles. This would have necessitated support from other families.
But the earldom was in the lower Highlands extending into the Lowlands and perhaps the traditions and terminology of the Highland clans were not shared in the earldom in terms of names given to allied families. With one exception, the historical records we have studied do not refer to any families as septs of the Lennox earls. There are references to vassals, which are being further explored, but not septs. The exception is a branch of Clan MacEwen. In his manuscript Clan Ewen: Some Records of its History, published in 1904 in The Celtic Monthly, Robert S. T. MacEwen writes that a branch of the Ewen Clan living in the Lennox would have been a sept of the Lennox Earls as early as the 15th Century. (There were other branches of the Ewen clan scattered in Scotland, and they would not have been Lennox septs. )
We have not been able to establish with any historical accuracy whether the Lennox family was considered a sept of another clan. This is entirely possible. In the Tudor Period, members of the Lennox family married into the Royal Stewart family. This alliance could well have been translated as a traditional sept.
The Lennox clan historians are continuing a study of septs related to Lennox.
In contemporary times, the Lennox Clan Chief has recognized a new sept. On 11 October, 2016, the Chief proclaimed the Whitford Family of Eastern North Carolina as a sept. This family settled in the former British Colony of North Carolina almost 300 years ago, presumably descending from the family of David Whitford, a Scottish tobacco merchant who first settled in the Chesapeake area of Virginia in 1669. The Whitfords (also Whiteford and Whitefoord) in Scotland emerged in the 13th Century in what is now Renfrewshire, an area in or near the Lennox earldom. Notable Scots Whitfords include Walter Whitford, who received a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Glasgow and was appointed by Charles I as Bishop of Brechin in 1635. He quickly ran into trouble with the Covenanters when he tried to impose the king’s ‘reforms’ in the Church of Scotland. The execution of Charles I at the hands of Oliver Cromwell caused Dr. Whitford considerable hardship. At least two of his sons studied at Oxford and were engaged in military action as royalists during the struggle with Cromwell. In the 18th Century, Colonel Charles Whiteford, an officer in the British army, was one of only a few of Cope’s officers to fight well at Prestonpans. He also wrote a detailed, at times moving, account of Culloden. His son Caleb, was a merchant and diplomat and a friend of Benjamin Franklin, one of the ‘Founding Fathers’ of the United States. In modern times, Dr. Eilidh Whiteford was an MP from Banff and Buchan and Dr. Phillipa Whitford is currently an MP from Central Ayrshire.
While there is scant evidence of historical use of the term ‘sept’ for the Lennox family, there is a historical record of cadet clans of Lennox. A cadet clan is a clan that branched from a main clan often under leadership of a second or ‘lower’ son or a brother of a chief who would not inherit the property of the clan chief under primogeniture. The documented Lennox cadet clans are:
Napiers of Merchiston
There is also some historical evidence that these three clans are cadet clans of Lennox:
Because the Lennox ‘family’ around the world is not large, to promote interest and activity in the clan, the Lennox Chief has indicated a willingness to consider accepting family groups with historical connections to Scotland as contemporary septs of his clan. Extended family groups with Scots connections, but no historical clan, are invited to express interest in becoming a sept of Clan Lennox by contacting the Council of Commissioners through the contact page on this website.