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

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

McMullin is an ancient Dalriadan-Scottish 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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Translation in medieval times was an undeveloped science and was often carried out without due care. For this reason, many early Scottish names appeared radically altered when written in English. The spelling variations of McMullin include 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 McMullin research. Another 466 words(33 lines of text) covering the years 1775, 1790, and 1897 are included under the topic Early McMullin History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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Some of the McMullin 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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Ancestors of many of the Dalriadan families who crossed the Atlantic still live along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Some Scottish settlers arrived in Canada during the American War of Independence as United Empire Loyalists, while others stayed south to fight for a new nation. The descendants of Scottish settlers in both countries began to rediscover their heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries through Clan societies and highland games. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name McMullin or a variant listed above:

McMullin Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Alexandrew McMullin, aged 22, arrived in New York, NY in 1804
  • Betsy McMullin, aged 60, landed in New York, NY in 1804
  • John McMullin, aged 50, arrived in New York, NY in 1804
  • Hector McMullin, who landed in America in 1810
  • Francis McMullin, who arrived in Maryland in 1815


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  • Frederick Drury McMullin (1891-1952), American Major League Baseball third baseman
  • John F. McMullin (1849-1881), American professional baseball player
  • Ernan McMullin (1924-2011), O’Hara Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame
  • John McMullin (b. 1935), American professional golfer
  • Sir Alister Maxwell McMullin (1900-1984), Australian politician
  • Peter McMullin (b. 1952), Australian Mayor of Geelong in 2006 and Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne from 1996 to 1999
  • Ian McMullin (b. 1964), former Australian rules footballer
  • Dale McMullin (b. 1955), former Canadian ice hockey player in the WHA
  • Mr. James McMullin (d. 1912), aged 31, English Saloon Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking


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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. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  2. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  3. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  4. 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.
  5. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  6. 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).
  7. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  8. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  9. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The McMullin Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McMullin 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 19 February 2014 at 14:52.

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