Frequently Asked Questions
How is your name pronounced?
Well that depends. In the area were the Clan originated it is
definitely pronounced “Mingus”. However the Clan Society
recognises that those of the name Menzies have spread far beyond
the limits of Strathtay where not everyone is familiar with local
pronunciation and is perfectly happy to accept those who prefer
to pronounce their name in a more phonetic style. Though, David
Menzies of Menzies (the Clan Chief) when refered to as “Men-zies
of Men-zies” is reputed to have responded that there is
no such person.
2. Why is it spelt one way but pronounced another?
The reasons are best describe as unclear. The most popular theory
is that at one point there was confusion between the way that
Gaels wrote their lowercase “g”s and “z”s
both of which looked like the numeral 3. Thus, Mengus or Mingus
into Menzus or Minzus, which later evolved into Menzies. The
thing to remember here is that neither literacy nor standard spellings
were as prevalent as they are now. There are plenty of other
that are not pronounced as they are spelled. For example, Dalziel
(usually pronounced DL) Mainwaring (usually pronounced Mannering)
and Gloucester (usually pronounced Glos-ter).
3. I keep reading about Menzies of Shian, Menzies of Pitfodel
and Menzies of Culdares but I can’t find these places
on a map, where are they? While we are at it what is the difference
Menzies of Weem and Menzies of Menzies?
Menzies of Shain held land in Glenquiach, which is an area from
Amulree up to the bottom of Loch Tay. Menzies of Pitfodel held
land in Aberdeenshire. Menzies of Culdares held land near Fortingall.
Menzies of Weem was the main branch of the clan so this qualifier
and Menzies of Menzies are the same and can be used interchangeably.
The qualifying place name is usually a name of a house or an area,
where they originated and was used to differentiate between branches
of a family. In the case of the larger clans this was invaluable
as cadet branches could often wield power independent of the main
branch. The best example of this is Campbell of Breadalbane and
Campbell of Argyll.
4. You know how the main line of Menzies of Menzies died out after
the death of Sir Neil, well I/other family member/my friend has
a better claim than the current Chief. What can I/they do about
Either you or the person who thinks they have a better claim needs
to contact Lord Lyon King of Arms who decides such matters. Here
are the contact details for the Lord Lyon:
The Court of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms
H.M. New Register House,
Edinburgh. EH1 3YT
Telephone: 0131 556 7255
Facimile: 0131 557 2148
5. What did the Menzies' do at Bannockburn?
The Menzies backed Bruce’s claim to the throne over the
other contenders from an early stage and fought on Bruce’s
(Scottish) side. The Menzies' were rewarded for their support
by being given the lands of some of those who supported the rival
6. What did the Menzies' do at Killecrankie, and the rebellions
of 1715 and 1745?
The Menzies' were related to the Stewarts though marriage but
were wary of getting involved too directly so as not to give more
powerful neighbours reasons to annex property or land. Thus, the
main branch generally remain neutral but allowed to show tacit
support for the Jacobite cause by letting cadet branches commit
men. The exception to this was Killecrankie where the son of the
then Chief fought for Mackay, while kinsmen from Pitfodel supplemented
the Jacobite forces of Dundee.
7. My name is Menzies too, does that mean we are all related?
Maybe. The Menzies family was probably originally of Norman descent
that swapped military service in exchange for land in the twelfth
century. Part of the land deal was to adopt the Gaelic custom
whereby the owner of the land was the “father” of the people
on it. This is the basis of the clan system and where the word
clan (clanna = children) derives from. This “land deal” while
not unique to the Menzies' is unlike the Macdonalds or the Robertsons
who claim common descent from one ancestor. Over time the mainly
Norman Menzies would have mixed with the native Gaelic population
in the Strathtay area. Meanwhile those living under Am Menneneich
(The Menzies) protection would have adopted his name. However,
contemporary usage of surnames was more fluid than it is today
with people changing allegiance to suit political or economic
reality. For example, there is strong evidence that while proscribed
MacGregors changed their name to Menzies to escape persecution.
8. I’m confused between the difference between
the Menzies Clan Society and the Menzies Charitable Trust.
Please see the Trust page for an explanation of why the Trust
was founded and what it does.