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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: Dutch, Irish

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

The Irish surname Killian originally appeared in Gaelic as O Cillin.


During the Middle Ages, exact spellings for people's name did not exist. It was up to the literate scribe that was recording a person's name to decide how to spell his name. Names, therefore, often had many spelling variations. The variations of the name Killian include: Killeen, Killen, Killion, Killian, Killin, Gilin, Killan, Killoon, O'Killen, McKillen and many more.

First found in County Mayo (Irish: Maigh Eo) located on the West coast of the Republic of Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held territories was at Ballykilleen since early times. This lofty family were the ancient Chiefs of Fingal, Earls of Fingal and Lords Killeen. Saint Kilian, (also spelled Killian) from the Irish: Cillian, was an Irish missionary bishop and the apostle of Franconia. He was born in Mullagh, County Cavan, and is the patron saint of the parish of Tuosist, in County Kerry. Saint Kilian's feast day is July 8th and St. Kilian's Abbey, at Würzburg is named after him. Today there are two Killeen Castles in Ireland: one located at Dunsany, in County Meath, that dates back to about 1180, but today's structure is a restoration of the 19th century after a fire in 1981. It will include a luxury golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. The second Killeen Castle is a 17th century castle at Killeen, in Castlegar, County Galway.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Killian research. Another 243 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1180, 1981, 1180 and 1172 are included under the topic Early Killian History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


A great wave of Irish migration occurred during the 19th century as a direct result of English colonial rule and tight-fisted absentee landlords. Many of these Irish immigrants boarded passenger ships bound for North America. Those who migrated early enough were given land in either British North America or the United States; those who came in the late 19th century were typically employed in industrial centers as laborers. At whatever age they undertook the dangerous passage to North America, those Irish immigrants were essential to the speedy development of the two infant nations to which they arrived, whether they broke and settled land, helped build canals, bridges, and railroads, or produced products for consumer consumption. An examination of immigration and passenger lists has uncovered a large number of immigrants bearing the name Killian or one of its variants:

Killian Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Johann Heinrich Killian, aged 31, arrived in New York, NY in 1849
  • Patrick Killian, aged 27, landed in DeWitt County, Illinois in 1854
  • Enoch Killian, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1869


  • Edwin Henry "Ed" Killian (1876-1928), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1903 to 1910
  • George E. Killian (b. 1924), American sports administrator, president of the International University Sports Federation (FISU)
  • Robert K. Killian (1919-2005), American politician from the state of Connecticut
  • Dan Arnold Killian (1880-1953), American head football coach at Louisiana State University from 1904 to 1906
  • Kevin Killian (b. 1952), American poet, author, and playwright, winner of the American Book Award for poetry in 2009
  • Albert H. "Al" Killian (1916-1950), American jazz trumpet player and bandleader during the big band era
  • George Killian Lett, Irish brewer who created George Killian's Irish Red, an amber lager now brewed by Pelforth (Heineken) Coors
  • Gustav Killian (1860-1921), German laryngologist, eponym of Killian's dehiscence
  • Dr. James Rhyne Killian Jr. (1904-1988), American academic, 10th President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1948 to 1959
  • Michael Killian (b. 1983), South African rugby union player


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  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  3. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  6. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  7. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  8. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  9. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Killian Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Killian 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 29 July 2015 at 21:43.

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