MacMilan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Originally, MacMilan was 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.
Early Origins of the MacMilan family
The surname MacMilan was 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.
Early History of the MacMilan family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacMilan research. Another 267 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1775, 1790, 1452, 1454, 1540, 1555, 1670, 1753, 1670, 1745 and 1745 are included under the topic Early MacMilan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacMilan Spelling Variations
Spelling variations were extremely common in medieval names, since scribes from that era recorded names according to sound rather than a standard set of rules. MacMilan has appeared in various documents spelled MacMillan, MacMullan, MacMullen, McMullen, McMullin, McMullan, McMillan, MacMullin and many more.
Early Notables of the MacMilan family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Sir Duncan Macmolane, a Pope's knight, chaplain of the collegiate church of Kilmone, 1452; John Macmulan (Makmilane, or Makmylan), bailie (baillie) of Glasgow in 1454; Sir Fingon Makmulane, who was presented in 1540 to the chaplainry of Tibbermore in the diocese of...
Migration of the MacMilan family to Ireland
Some of the MacMilan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Migration of the MacMilan family
Descendents of Dalriadan-Scottish families still populate many communities across North America. They are particularly common in Canada, since many went north as United Empire Loyalists at the time of the American War of Independence. Much later, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the highland games and Clan societies that now dot North America sprang up, allowing many Scots to recover their lost national heritage. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name MacMilan, or a variant listed above: Archibald McMillan settled in Wilmington N.C. in 1774; along with Ivor and his wife Jean, James, Malcolm his wife Catherine and three sons; John McMillan was banished from the west country of England and arrived in New England in 1685.
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.