Chief, Chieftain or Laird

Recognised chiefly styles and territorial designations of chiefs, chieftains and lairds, which are strictly speaking part of their surname are under the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon King of Arms and by statute these form part of the name and should always be used.

By the second half of the 16th century Highland chiefs were styled by the Crown as 'of that Ilk'(the chief being head of the family and owning the name-place, eg Moncreiffe of that Ilk), but other chiefs varied between this form and a territorial designation (eg Maclean of Duart).

After the Union of 1707, Highland chiefs moved to a straightforward reiteration of the name (eg Macdonald of Macdonald) because of the difficulty in explaining 'of that Ilk' in England, and most other families have since followed suit.

For centuries some chiefs have abbreviated their style and adopted the definite article, eg Chisholm of Chisholm is known as 'The Chisholm', and Macnab of Macnab as 'The Macnab'.

Others use the definite article as well as the clan or territorial designation, eg The MacLaren of MacLaren, The MacKinnon of MacKinnon and The Macneil of Barra. The use of 'The' by certain chiefs in place of the forename is officially recognised by the Lord Lyon.

How to address a Chief, Chieftain or Laird

In Scotland it is normal to write to Chiefs, Chieftains and Lairds by their designation or estate, and not by their surname. Neither 'Mr' nor 'Esq' are added to the name on the envelope.

The recommended (social) style of address is as follows:

Beginning of letter

Dear Chisholm (note: a non-Scotsman who writes to a Chief or Laird with a Service rank, especially a correspondent who is younger or junior in rank, would write to The Mackintosh as 'Dear Admiral Mackintosh of Mackintosh', and a member of a Clan or Name would write to his Chief as 'Dear Chief') Examples of other types of name, are shown below in table, e.g. Col Cameron, The MacNeil of Barra etc.

End of letter

Yours sincerely

Envelope

The Chisholm/Colonel Donald Cameron of Lochiel/ The MacNeil of Barra/Henry Forbes Irvine of Drum/Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Bt

Verbal address

Lochiel/Mackintosh (ie by Clan or territorial designation, not by surname)

Invitation

The Chisholm

Joint invitation & joint form

The Chisholm and Mrs (or Madam) Chisholm

of address....

Description in conversation

Lochiel/Mackintosh/The Chisholm

List of Directors or Patrons

The Chisholm/Colonel Donald Cameron of Lochiel/ The MacNeil of Barra/Henry Forbes Irvine of Drum/Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Bt

Place Card

The Chisholm/Colonel Donald Cameron of Lochiel/ The MacNeil of Barra/Henry Forbes Irvine of Drum/Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Bt

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