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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Scottish-Alt, Scottish

Where did the Scottish McLean family come from? What is the Scottish McLean family crest and coat of arms? When did the McLean family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McLean family history?

In the mountains of Scotland's west coast and on the Hebrides islands, the ancestors of the McLean family were born. Their name comes from a devotion to St. John. The surname is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac Gille Eathain, a patronymic name meaning "son of the servant of Saint John." The Clan is descended from Eachan Reaganach, (brother of Lachlan the progenitor of the Macleans of Duart). These two brothers were both descended from Gilleathain na Tuaidh, known as 'Gillian of the Battleaxe', a famed warrior of the 5th century. Eachan, or Hector was given the lands of Lochbuie from John, the first Lord of the Isles, some time in the 14th century.


Spelling variations are a very common occurrence in records of early Scottish names. They result from the repeated and inaccurate translations that many names went through in the course of various English occupations of Scotland. McLean has been spelled MacLean, MacLaine, MacLane, MacLeane, MacClean, MacClain, MacClaine, MacGhille Eoin (Gaelic) and many more.

First found in the Western Isles where the Clan held extensive lands on almost every island in the Western Hebrides.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McLean research. Another 277 words(20 lines of text) covering the years 1411, 1500, 1745, 1560, 1630, 1582, 1658, 1604, 1666, 1620, 1651, 1649, 1651, 1645, 1674, 1651, 1674, 1650, 1687, 1670, 1716, 1674, 1716, 1745 and are included under the topic Early McLean History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 209 words(15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McLean Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the McLean family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 121 words(9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Scottish settlers arrived in many of the communities that became the backbones of the United States and Canada. Many stayed, but some headed west for the endless open country of the prairies. In the American War of Independence, many Scots who remained loyal to England re-settled in Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Scots across North America were able to recover much of their lost heritage in the 20th century as Clan societies and highland games sprang up across North America. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first McLeans to arrive on North American shores:

McLean Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Andrew McLean, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

McLean Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Catharine McLean, who arrived in New York in 1739
  • Allan McLean, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1740
  • Duncan McLean, who settled in Boston in 1766
  • James Elizabeth, Anne, Daniel, James, and Lettice McLean who were all on record in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1767
  • Duncan McLean, who arrived in Brunswick, North Carolina in 1767

McLean Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Charles McLean, who landed in Ohio in 1805
  • Daniel McLean, aged 25, landed in Rhode Island in 1812
  • Archibald McLean, aged 43, arrived in North Carolina in 1812
  • James McLean, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1824
  • Jane McLean, who arrived in New York in 1833


  • Donald McLean Jr. (b. 1945), American singer-songwriter most famous for the 1971 album American Pie
  • Edward Beale McLean (1889-1941), American newspaper publisher, Washington Post
  • David McLean (1922-1995), American film and television actor
  • Malcom Purcell McLean (1913-2001), American entrepreneur, often called "the father of containerization" named "Man of the Century" by the International Maritime Hall of Fame
  • Brigadier-General Milton Robbins McLean (1874-1956), American Commanding Officer 161st Field Atillery Regimenty (1923-1925)
  • John McLean (1878-1955), American Olympian who won a silver medal for 110m hurdles at the 1900 games
  • Bruce McLean (b. 1944), Scottish performance artist and painter
  • Al McLean (b. 1937), Canadian politician from Ontario
  • Allan McLean (1840-1911), Australian politician from Victoria
  • Andrew "Stuart" McLean OC (b. 1948), Canadian ACTRA and three-time Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour award winning radio broadcaster, humourist, and author, best known for his CBC Radio program The Vinyl Cafe


  • The Way We Were by Alethea Mary Wallack McClain.
  • MacLean, the Family of Judge Alney and Tabitha McLean of Greenvilee, Kentucky by Sally Stone Trotter.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Virtue mine honour
Motto Translation: Virtue is my honour.


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  1. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  5. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  6. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  7. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  8. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  9. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The McLean Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McLean Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 24 October 2014 at 20:17.

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