McKillan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname McKillan is derived from the personal name Hugelin, which is a diminutive of Hugh. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Uighilin.

Early Origins of the McKillan family

The surname McKillan was first found in County Antrim (Irish: Aontroim) located in the province of Ulster in present day Northern Ireland, where they were granted lands by Strongbow after the Anglo/ Norman invasion of Ireland in 1172.

Specifically, "The MacQuillans were lords of the territory of the Routes, in co. Antrim, holding their chief residence in the fine old sea-girt castle of Dunluce." MacLysaght agrees "The MacQillans are of Norman- Welsh descent: they settled soon after the invasion in the territory called the Route (co. Antrim.)" [1]

One of the first records of the family was Malcolm MacQuillan who died in 1307. Little is known of his heritage, but what we do know is that he was granted safe conduct by the English so he could assail Scottish forces, on Scotland's western seaboard, with his galley fleet. He was part of a fleet of eighteen galleys with 1,000 men who landed near Stranraer, now a town in southwest Scotland in Inch, Dumfries and Galloway. But, this force was quickly overwhelmed by local forces led by Dungal MacDouall. MacQuillan was captured and executed. His head and the heads from two Irish chiefs were sent back to King Edward I.

Early History of the McKillan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McKillan research. Another 217 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1315, 1442, 1542, 1559, 1750, 1307, 1300 and 1485 are included under the topic Early McKillan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McKillan Spelling Variations

Medieval scribes and church officials spelt names simply the way they sounded, which explains the various name spelling variations of the name McKillan that were encountered when researching that surname. The many spelling variations included: McQuillan, McQuillen, McQuillian, McQuillin, McQuillon, McCailin, McAilin, MacQuillian, MacQuillon, MacCaillion, MacQuillin, MacQuillan, McKillan, McQuilland, McAiland, McAylin, McCaillion, McKillion, McKillin, McKillon, MacKillan, MacQuilland, MacAyland, MacAilan, Quillan and many more.

Early Notables of the McKillan family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family up to this time was Malcolm MacQuillan (died 1307) Irish nobleman who was granted safe conduct by the English so he could assail Scottish forces, on Scotland's western seaboard, with his galley fleet in July 1300. However, the invasion force was quickly overwhelmed by local forces. Malcolm was captured and summarily executed with the Irish sub king. The heads of McQuillan and two Irish chiefs were sent to King Edward I. In 1485, Rory MacQuillan founded a late Franciscan foundation named Bonamargy Friary situated in County Antrim...
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McKillan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McKillan migration to the United States +

A great number of Irish families left their homeland in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, migrating to such far away lands as Australia and North America. The early settlers left after much planning and deliberation. They were generally well off but they desired a tract of land that they could farm solely for themselves. The great mass of immigrants to arrive on North American shores in the 1840s differed greatly from their predecessors because many of them were utterly destitute, selling all they had to gain a passage on a ship or having their way paid by a philanthropic society. These Irish people were trying to escape the aftermath of the Great Potato Famine: poverty, starvation, disease, and, for many, ultimately death. Those that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Irish settlers bearing the name McKillan:

McKillan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Donald McKillan, who landed in New Jersey in 1685 [2]

Canada McKillan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McKillan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Barney McKillan, aged 40 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "John Munn" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in October 1847 [3]
  • Mr. Mary McKillan, aged 39 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Tamarac" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in July 1847 [3]


  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 45)


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