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Frequently Asked Questions

1. 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 evolved 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 names 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 between 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 it?

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
www.lyon-court.com

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 Comyn claim.

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 some 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.

 
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