Scottish Clan Affiliations
Although the Sprouls are indeed an ancient Scottish family they are not a clan. Scottish clans in the sense of Highland and Island clans stem from the family based socioeconomic structure that dominated much of those areas of Scotland up until 1746 when the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart were defeated at Cullodon. Clan members may have genetic ties to the chieftain or may be members of other families which gave allegiance to the chieftain and clan - and may have taken the clan surname. The area of Dumbartonshire and the Lennox lands straddle the boundary between the Highlands and Lowlands, but the Sprouls may be more properly thought of as a Lowland rather than Highland family, and indeed are neither Celts or Norse Gaels who make up the Highland and Island families and clans. However, there are some Lowland families who have taken on the mantle of clans - Stewarts being an example. In addition, many Lowland families have come to be associated with clans and are accepted into the modern clans and may wear the tartan and the belted crest of that clan. These associated families as sometimes called 'septs' although this use of the term is not always strictly correct.
So, are the Sprouls associated with any clan? There are many online sites and books that list the proposed clan affiliation of various Scots families including the Sprouls. Before going further it is important to note that much of the clan lore in terms of septs and tartans etc. that exists today only dates back to Victorian times, when Queen Victoria and others became fascinated with the ancient culture, customs and dress of Scotland. Clan power and much of clan history and symbols such as tartans had been suppressed after 1746. In many case, the clan tartans and 'septs' were recreated in Victorian times from fragmentary sources or imagination. In the case of the Sprouls a commonly cited association is with the MacFarlane Clan. This arises from the fact that Walter Spreull and his immediate descendants were vassals of, and served, the Celtic Earls of Lennox from whom arose Clan MacFarlane. The clan's name arises from Maolchaluim Mac Pharlain (the son of Parlan) whose family were cousins of the reining Earl of Lennox in the mid 14th century. With the fall of the original Earls of Lennox and ascension of the Stewarts, the Sproul lands fell under Stewart influence. Some sources also associate the Sprouls with the Stewarts. Finally, in the 19th century the Lennox of Woodhead family claimed the mantle of the ancient Celtic Earls of Lennox and have been recognized as chiefs of Lennox. Since Walter Spreull served the original Earls of Lennox it is possible that the newly constituted Lennox Clan will recognize the Sprouls as a sept or associated family. Lennox considers the MacFarlanes to be a cadet clan of Lennox. A cadet clan is a clan that branched of from an older existing clan - perhaps through a younger son or other relative of the clan chieftain. This was certainly the case in the founding of Clan MacFarlane.
At this time the most common clan association for Sprouls appears to be Clan MacFarlane, based upon ancient association through shared fealty to the Earls of Lennox. Today Clan MacFarlane is an armigerous clan (does not have a recognized chieftain). However, there is a Clan MacFarlane Worldwide organization that sponsors the Lennox, MacFarlane, Leckie - Cadet Clans of Lennox DNA project and is welcoming to Sprouls as an associated family or sept. You can find out more or apply to 'join Clan MacFarlane' at https://www.clanmacfarlane.org/