Monday, April 1, 2013

Vance Family Association Corporate Tartan

Posted by Ron Vance

During my tenure as VFA president, I have received a few requests for help in purchasing an article of clothing made using the Vance tartan.  Individuals have either seen the tartan while surfing the Scottish websites that manufacture and sell these articles or by scanning the 'Gallery' tab on the Vance Family Association website. Yes, it is possible to make such a purchase and the VFA may be able to help.

VFA Member James Brady Melton showing off the Vance tartan
at the 2012 Highland Games!

The History

In 1994, an idea was put forth by Mark W. Vance, a VFA member and the tartan designer, to develop our own Vance Family Association tartan.  The idea was approved, the tartan was designed by Mark, and the registration purchased by the VFA.   

Please be aware that the approval of a VFA tartan was not unanimous.  Some researchers linked their family history to Vance's that did not go through Scotland on their way to the USA and saw no need for a tartan.  Also, as you will read, we have yet to prove that the ancestral Vance clan of Scotland had a tartan.

In 1995, VFA members made a coordinated order of the Vance Corporate Tartan material from a mill we believe to be:

  D.C. Dalgliesh Ltd.
  Tartan specialists
  Dunsdale Mill
  Selkirk, TD7 5EB

We have no knowledge of any later VFA group orders being made to this or any other mill.

As previously mentioned, the best we can determine, the ancestral Vance clan in Scotland did not have a specific tartan. This tartan was made specifically for the VFA and is not a product of our genealogy research into the history of  the Vance family.  Given all the spellings of our surname (Vance, Vass, Vans, Vanse, Vause, Vaus, Vaux, de Vallibus, Wass, Waus, Wentz, there's more) researching tartans and their history can get complicated.

According to our researchers, Vances, possibly listed as Vass, Vaus, Wass, and Vaus, may have fought with the Ross and Munro clans and presumably wore their tartans.  However from one of researchers:
" In my clan maps etc., the Vass family is always listed as a sept of the Ross and Munro families.  The strange thing about this is the Ross and Munro lands are adjacent to one another in the far north of Scotland along the west of the Moray Firth and across the firth from Colloden while the Vance lands were in the far southwest along Solway Firth.  That is a long way to communicate for battle."
[Then again, the Scots fought the English all over Scotland so it is hard to tell.] 

Some references that may be of interest:

  •  The Clan Almanac by Charles MacLean (Eric Dobby Publishing)
  • Clan Ross compiled by Alan McNie (Cascade Publishing Co, Jedburgh, Scotland)

Purchasing a Tartan

We contacted the Scottish Register of Tartans,, who confirmed our tartan and stated that a purchaser would need to obtain an authorization letter from the VFA to sent to the supplier with the order.  Since this tartan is a VFA registered tartan, the VFA requires the purchaser to be a member.  Authorization from the VFA can be obtained by writing, or emailing, the VFA President and requesting this letter.

The Scottish tartan business has gained participants since 1994 and our tartan may not be shown on all supplier websites. Examples of three suppliers who currently display our tartan are:

If you decide to purchase a garment, please let us know which supplier you choose and this specific supplier will be designated in the authorization letter.

Any more information you can find on an ancestral Vance tartan would be appreciated.  Please reply to this blog with your input.

Closeup of VFA Tartan pattern from VFA website

1 comment:

  1. FYI ... I can verify that the mill was D.C. Dalgliesh Ltd. for the first coordinated order by members of VFA, as I was the one that made that order. They were the mill that wove the first tartan during the design process and the only ones at the time to be able to produce the tartan material for our order. Also, the mill is in the Scottish Borders Council district of southeastern Scotland. It lies on the Ettrick Water, a tributary of the River Tweed. Dirleton Castle is just north of Selkirk.