The Burnetts were
never a "clan" as the term is used in Scots custom and law. The clans in
Scotland were patriarchal in scope and were essentially tribal societies whose members
spoke Gaelic. The majority of Burnetts were not Gaelic speakers most of them spoke
Scots (also known as Scottis or Lallans) and although many of them lived in or near the
Highlands, they were not Highlanders for the most part.
The correct terminology for the Burnett family is "House of Burnett", as is the case with a number of other great Scottish families (the Bruces, the Dunbars and the Gordons, for example). Although the term "clan" has been used to describe some Lowland families, even in Lyon Court records, there was NEVER a "Clan Burnett".
For many years the Clan Campbell and various publications have claimed that the Burnetts were a sept (branch) of the Clan Campbell (due, no doubt, to the similarity of the name to Burns, which is a sept of the Clan Campbell).
The Lord Lyon has declared that to be unfounded, further stating that the Burnetts were an independent family, not subject to the Clan Campbell or to anyone else except to the monarch.
In recent years, the Clan Campbell has gone to some length to help set the record straight.
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