John Ferguson McLennan

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McLennan, John Ferguson


Born Oct. 14, 1827, in Inverness; died June 16, 1881, in Hayes Common, Kent. Scottish ethnologist and historian of primitive society. One of the founders of the evolutionist school in ethnology.

McLennan’s chief works were devoted to the early history of marriage and the family. Convinced that all peoples underwent a uniform course of social evolution, McLennan was one of the first (after J. Bachofen) to postulate the priority of maternal over paternal kinship reckoning. He also called attention to the ancient marriage customs of abduction, polyandry, exogamy, and endogamy (the last two terms were introduced by McLennan). McLennan also gathered much information about totemism among many peoples of the world.


Engels, F. Proiskhozhdenie sem ’i, chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21.
Kosven, M. O. Matriarkhat: Istoriia problemy. Moscow, 1948.