Western USA Branch
"Mac" is part of many Scottish surnames and simply means "son." It is popularly believed that names beginning with "Mc" are of Irish origin and those with "Mac" of Scottish origin. This is not the case. "Mac" is the standardized prefix used today, but a hundred years ago it was commonly abbreviated in written records to "Mc" or even "M".
The variety of surnames within the Clan MacLachlan does not represent individual sub-clans and/or septs. Instead, it represents the effects of phonetic spelling, marriage, migration and occupation.
The discussion below details some of the common reasons our name is spelled differently.
At one time, the Clerks and Religious Clerics were about the only individuals who were not illiterate. As such,the spelling of an individual's name would depend on the recorder of the civil records and would tend to be spelled phonetically. Since most of the early immigrants from Scotland were illiterate, Immigration Officers would often spell the names phonetically.
Many names were changed as the result of flight following the loss in a conflict or as the result of an improper or illegal action. This type of change could be thought of as "using an alias."
In the most notorious case, almost romanticized in some modern literature, Clan MacGregor's name was outlawed. As a result, clan members adopted other names, most commonly colors such as White or Black, for their own protection.
According to some family legends, a disagreement between generations in a family could result in variations in the spelling of the name. Others might change the name simply because they did not like how it was spelled.
The following table lists many of the spellings currently recognized as associated with Clan MacLachlan. All are derived from three root names: MacLachlan, MacEwen and Gilchrist.