Guidance as regards the holding of a Derbfine or Family Convention
Derbfine was the name given in Old Irish Law to a four generation agnatic kin group of importance in determining succession and the ownership of property. More recently the term has been used to describe what might be termed a Family Convention, held when the identity of the Chief or Head of a historic Family or Name is in doubt, the object of which is to recognise a new Chief or Head of the Family or Name; or to indicate a suitable Commander for a term of years.
A Family Convention should be composed of the leading members of the Family or Name in question. It has not proved easy to define who exactly qualify as leading members, but the term certainly includes the heads or representatives of leading branches of the family. In the past the term has been defined in terms of armigers and substantial landowners. Although being an armiger does suggest a certain status and a degree of commitment to the Name, this definition has not proved entirely satisfactory, being on the one hand too exclusive and on the other open to abuse. For example, such a definition might exclude non-armigerous heads of leading branches; also, in theory at least, definition in terms of a given number of armigers may make a Family Convention open to “packing”. There is also the possibility that someone unconnected to the Name in question, might adopt that name as his or her surname and become an armiger. It is not appropriate that someone in this position should then be regarded as a leading member of the family. It does seem appropriate, however, to consult with a well established clan or family association where such exists.