Show ContentsKillian History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

Early Origins of the Killian family

The surname Killian was 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, (c. 640-689) 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.

There are some scanty records of the family in Scotland, but they are rather late: "John Killan in Cleckaime, parish of Lesmahago, 1677, and Robert Killand in Deidwatters, parish of Lesmahago, 1678. This name in Irish is O'Cilleain, descendant of Cillean, a diminutive of Ceallach, an ancient and once very common name." [1]

Early History of the Killian family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Killian research. Another 122 words (9 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 and printed products wherever possible.

Killian Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Killian family (pre 1700)

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

Killian Ranking

In the United States, the name Killian is the 2,301st most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [2] However, in France, the name Killian is ranked the 9,397th most popular surname with an estimated 500 - 1,000 people with that name. [3]

United States Killian migration to the United States +

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, who arrived in New York, NY in 1849 [4]
  • Patrick Killian, aged 27, who landed in DeWitt County, Illinois in 1854 [4]
  • Enoch Killian, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1869 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Killian (post 1700) +

  • Kevin Killian (1952-2019), 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
  • Dan Arnold Killian (1880-1953), American head football coach at Louisiana State University from 1904 to 1906
  • Robert K. Killian (1919-2005), American politician from the state of Connecticut
  • George E. Killian (b. 1924), American sports administrator, president of the International University Sports Federation (FISU)
  • Edwin Henry "Ed" Killian (1876-1928), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1903 to 1910
  • John Killian, American politician, Member of North Carolina House of Commons from Lincoln County, 1838-41 [5]
  • J. Yates Killian, American Republican politician, Member of North Carolina State House of Representatives from Catawba County, 1915-16; alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from North Carolina, 1916 [5]
  • Frederick Killian, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from New York County 15th District, 1872 [5]
  • Bill Killian, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 2004 [5]
  • ... (Another 12 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from on Facebook