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

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

Scotland's coastal mountains and Hebrides islands were known in ancient times as the kingdom of Dalriada. The name McMillin evolved there as a nickname for a bald person; the name may refer to a member of a religious order. The Gaelic forms of the name are Mac Mhaolain or Mac Ghille Mhaoil, both of which mean son of the bald or tonsured one.
However, the origins of the Clan have been shrouded in uncertainty, largely as a result of historians of the Clan Buchanan, and their insistence that both Clans have a common ancestry. Buchanan of Auchmar says that the MacMillans are descended from Methlan, second son of Anselan, a Buchanan Chief of the thirteenth century. His theory supports the Buchanan claim that the MacMillans are but a sept (sub-Clan) of the Buchanan rather than a Clan in their own right. This theory is supported by the contention that both Clans have an ecclesiastical origin: MacMillan being Anglicized from Maolanach, meaning a 'priest.' However, tradition may more properly ascribe the origin from a particular tribe in Moray that has descended from the ancient Pictish tribe of Kanteai, thought to have existed in the first half of the second century AD.

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Spelling in the medieval era was a highly imprecise process. Translation, particularly from Gaelic to English, was little better. For these reasons, early Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. In various documents McMillin has been spelled MacMillan, MacMullan, MacMullen, McMullen, McMullin, McMullan, McMillan, MacMullin and many more.

First found in at Tayside, where in 1263 Cilleonan MacMolan appears on documents. They arrived in Strathtay from the lands in Loch Arkaig after King Malcolm IV transplanted many Clans, including the MacMillans, from that region about 1160 AD. Later, about 1350, the Camerons, who had changed their name to Chalmers, drove them from their Strathtay territories. In vacating the Strathtay, the Clan branched to many other areas, including Lochaber, Argyll and Galloway. The senior branch, however, were the MacMillans of Knapdale, and they held a grant from the Lord of the Isles inscribed in Latin on a rock at Knap: 'MacMillan's right to Knap shall be, as long as this rock withstands the sea.' Malcolm Mor MacMillan had received this rock by the 14th century. His grandson Lachlan MacMillan died at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. Lachlan's son, Alan MacMillan of Knap, married the McNeill heiress and took over the Castle Sween. He erected a cross, which still stands to this day in Kilmory churchyard. The cross stands better than twelve feet high and is elaborately engraved, showing a Highland Chief hunting a deer on one side, and a claymore surmounted by certain Clan members on the other.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McMillin research. Another 466 words(33 lines of text) covering the years 1775, 1790, and 1897 are included under the topic Early McMillin History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early McMillin Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McMillin family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 136 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and Clan societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The McMillin were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown:

McMillin Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • James McMillin, who arrived in America in 1811
  • William McMillin, aged 52, landed in New York in 1812

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  • Alvin Nugent "Bo" McMillin (1895-1952), American football player and coach
  • Benton McMillin (1845-1933), American politician, Governor of the U.S. state of Tennessee from 1899 to 1903
  • David McMillin (b. 1984), American singer-songwriter
  • Macey L. “Corky” McMillin Jr. (1929-2005), well-known American off-road desert racer, philanthropist and land developer
  • James "Jim" Burge McMillin (1914-2005), American gold medalist rower at the 1936 Summer Olympics
  • George Johnson McMillin (1889-1983), United States Navy Rear Admiral, Naval Governor of Guam (1940-1941)
  • Emerson McMillin (1844-1922), American philanthropist and founder of E. McMillin and Company, a banking firm in New York in 1891, eponym of the McMillin Observatory, Ohio State University
  • Judson "Jud" McMillin (b. 2010), American politician, Member of the Indiana House of Representatives
  • Challace Joe McMillin (b. 1942), American former football player and the first head coach of James Madison University's football program (1972-1984)
  • James Robert McMillin (b. 1939), former American NFL football defensive back who played from 1961 to 1965

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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: Miseris succurrere disco
Motto Translation: I learn to succour the distressed.

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  1. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  2. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  3. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  5. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  6. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  7. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  8. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  9. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  10. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  11. ...

The McMillin Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McMillin 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 22 May 2014 at 08:29.

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