Bannerman, John. The Beatons: A Medical Kindred in the Classical Gaelic Tradition (1998).

The Beatons“If anything the physicians, perhaps especially in Scotland, had risen in status and relative importance since the early law tracts were written down, for they were not ranked therein as highly as the poet or the lawman.”

This little genealogical tract is a handy thing if you happen to have Beaton’s in your ancestry (which I do), otherwise you might be better off reading, oh I don’t know, anything else. While it has numerous interesting points about Gaelic society and the Beaton family’s function in that society, it’s writing style doesn’t exactly make it light reading. It, for the bulk of the book, traces anscestry and, even if it’s one your interested in, it can get a bit boring. However, if you are a Beaton and want to know where you came from, then look no further than this book.

It only really doesn’t have much to say about the law. Probably the biggest statement it makes is the extent to which legal papers create a trail through which ancestry can be traced. Bannerman looks to property titles, court cases, tax bills, and numerous other documents that were kept by the governing parties in order to trace the names of these people. Without these state papers the task would have been extremely difficult if not impossible.

Another point that I found quite interesting was a snippet on how doctors (and other learned proffesions) were under Gaelic law granted a status that gave them the priviledges of nobles. He does note that the physicians were not initially ranked as highly as the “poet or the lawman.” That’s just like us lawyers, always putting ourselves first.

He also points out that physicians were considered to be wealthy even back then as a poll tax set by Parliment on them was quite high.

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