> The MacColin Household System

MacColin Household System

We have organized our household structure in order to make the job of running the Clan easier. The various households have been assembled into the Grad Flaith (Grand Households) of the primary tenants of the Chief. Each of these households have several subhouseholds , which may or may not have a particular flavor to them, as suits the members and our history.

If you've been working with us a while, you should know your household.. This may or may not be the household with which you have the closest kinship ties. From a historical perspective you may have married into it, or been fostered into it, or have joined it because there was more opportunity to practice your special talents there. From a 21st century point of view you would be part of a Grand Household because of location, special interests, friendships, or any reason that works for you.

It is important to remember that most of our time in the 16th century was spent getting a living from the land and water. Much of what we regard as "crafts" now, were necessary survival skills then. EVERYONE caught, gutted, salted, dried and cooked fish. EVERYONE helped clear, plow and plant the fields. EVERYONE helped harvest the kail and the barley. EVERYONE helped pluck and gather wool. EVERYONE pitched in to build or mend a house. There was a great leveling influence in being a small group with a lot to do.

But still, each person had a special knack for something, and folk would go to whoever was best at something they needed done. Households, specializing in one thing or another, attracted others who wished to learn. When the need to do other things was not pressing, the smith was at his forge, the weaver at his loom, the herbalist at her infusions, or the storyteller teaching youngsters the old tales.

A 16th century Chief's household was the hub of much of Clan life. Clanfolk came and went with news, questions, gifts, messages, requests, and complaints. A successful Chief's household was usually fairly large as it had to include the people who carried on this business. Bare in mind, however, that our homes were small, even by modern third world standards. "Large" in no way ranks such a household with a manor full of liveried servants, however! Members of the Chief's household might share the stone tower house and dining hall with the Chief's family (and possibly the Chief's livestock), or might live nearby in outbuildings or neighboring houses. There would likely be a ghillie or two, the Chief's henchman or bodyguard, and a woman or two to tend to the fire and the cooking and cleaning. The Chief's wife would supervise the housekeeping and hold the keys to the "kists", or chests, that held the family plates, spices and paraphernalia. There might also be foster children, bastards, an unmarried son, brother or an elderly kinsman, actually living in the Chief's house. Since even tower houses tended to be small, there was a limit to the number of people who would regularly bed down in the bracken on the floor.

Our present Chief, Steven Gillan (Stiofan A Giollain Mac Colin), has a household that includes himself, his daughter Jessica (Iasaca, the heir apparent, or "Tanist"). He also has a piper, a bannerman-ghillie, a housekeeper, a seamstress, a tutor for the Tanist, and various others with specific functions in the house. The Chief's wife is attended by a "suite" of women, including widows of good families and wives of men with duties at the Chief's holding. Among these folk are both Scots and Irish. Our Chief is well-read and is a primary source of information for all our activities. His daughter and grand daughters are excellent dancers.

In Clan Mac Colin each primary household also has subhouseholds. In the sixteenth century, as now, family and kinship had much to do with who was in what household, but not exclusively so. Often there were several factors, and the relationships of households were complex. For administrative purposes the primary consideration was tenancy. Almost all of the land was held in tenancy. The Captains (Tacksmen) held directly from the Chief, and subhouseholds held from them. This goes to several levels.

Bear in mind that the relationship of households, by tenancy, is not the only chain. On the march, the Chieftain (AKA Chief) orders the Marscall Teig, who in turn orders the Sergeant Major, who orders the Squad Leaders who pass orders to the pikemen, skirmishers and kerns.

The chain of command varies with the job to be done. While a Captain may set the policy regarding a piece of construction, in helping with the work, he will follow the lead of the Engineers. We show respect to our "betters", and are a proud people, and would not fear looking the King in the eye- God gave him his station and us our's!

Each of these households, and every tenant's household, represents a microcosm of the activities at the Chief's household. There is always a hearth to tend, food to be gathered, prepared and stored, animals to be tended, clothes and tools to be made, etc. The magnitude of the tasks, and the number of people doing them, are the only differences between the greater and lesser households.

Which household are you in, and what functions do you have within it? Also, who are your closest kin and how are they related through the households? Be sure you know your household, and who heads it; know how to get in touch with him or her.

Each of the Households are headed by an officer, with associated lands.