Show ContentsMcGillen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The original Gaelic form of McGillen was Ó Giollain, from the word "giolla," which means "lad." 1

Early Origins of the McGillen family

The surname McGillen was first found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

Early History of the McGillen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGillen research. Another 59 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGillen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGillen Spelling Variations

The search for the origins of the name McGillen family name revealed numerous spelling variations. These variants can be somewhat accounted for when it is realized that before widespread literacy people only recognized their name by pronunciation; it was up to scribes to decide how it was to be formally recorded. Variations found include Gillan, Gillinan, Gillen, Gillon, Gillfinan, Gillion and many more.

Early Notables of the McGillen family

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

Migration of the McGillen family

Thousands of Irish left in their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries to escape the religious and political discrimination they experienced primarily at the hands of the English, and in the search of a plot of land to call their own. These immigrants arrived at the eastern shores of North America, early on settling and breaking the land, and, later, building the bridges, canals, and railroads essential to the emerging nations of United States and Canada. Many others would toil for low wages in the dangerous factories of the day. Although there had been a steady migration of Irish to North America over these years, the greatest influx of Irish immigrants came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Irish name McGillen or a variant listed above: Hugh and Jane Gillan who settled in New York State in 1823; James Gillan settled in New York in 1803; John, Patrick, Thomas and William Gillan settled in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.

Contemporary Notables of the name McGillen (post 1700) +

  • John Joseph McGillen (1917-1987), American Major League Baseball pitcher from Eddystone, Pennsylvania who played two games for the Philadelphia Athletics during the 1944 season
  • John Harold McGillen, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate in primary for Illinois State Senate 13th District, 1938 2
  • John McGillen, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1912, 1916, 1920 2

  1. MacLysaght, Edward, The Surnames of Ireland. Ireland: Irish Academic Press, sixth edition, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2366-3)
  2. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 14) . Retrieved from on Facebook