The Clan is a concept which dates back to the 12th Century. The Scottish clans were originally extended networks of families who had loyalties to a particular chief, but the word 'clan' is derived from the Gaelic 'clann', meaning literally children. Clan names are usually associated with land: an area of Scotland where the clan lived. The clan system was the main political system in Scotland until the time of the battle of Culloden in 1746, when the Jacobite rebellion was defeated by the troops of King George II.
The official body dealing with matters of clans, heraldry and tartans is the Court of the Lord Lyon. Every person who has the same surname as the chief is deemed to be a member of the clan. Equally a person who offers allegiance to the chief is recognised as a member of the clan. Many people bear names that, while not actual clan surnames, are sept names or associated names of certain clans. Surnames such as Smith, Wright, Fletcher, and Miller are examples as such names that are associated names of many clans (every clan would have its own smiths, wrights, fletchers and millers).
Scottish crest badges are heraldic badges used by members of Scottish clans to show their allegiance to a specific clan or clan chief. Even though they are commonly used by clan members, the heraldic crest and motto within the crest badge belong only to the clan chief - never the clan member. A Scottish crest badge is made up of a heraldic crest, encircled by a strap and buckle which contains a heraldic motto. In most cases, both crest and motto are derived from the crest and motto of the chief's coat of arms. Today, Scottish crest badges are commonly used by members of Scottish clans. However, much like clan tartans, Scottish crest badges do not have a long history, and owe much to Victorian era romanticism, and the dress of the Highland Regiments