Show ContentsMcMillen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The rugged western mountains of Scotland's coastline and the Hebrides islands were home to the ancestors of the McMillen family. McMillen was originally a name 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 McMillen family

The surname McMillen was first found in at Tayside, where in 1263 Cilleonan MacMolan appears on documents. [1] 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 McMillen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McMillen 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 McMillen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McMillen Spelling Variations

Spelling variations are a very common occurrence in records of early Scottish names. They result from the repeated and inaccurate translations that many names went through in the course of various English occupations of Scotland. McMillen has been spelled MacMillan, MacMullan, MacMullen, McMullen, McMullin, McMullan, McMillan, MacMullin and many more.

Early Notables of the McMillen 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...
Another 49 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McMillen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McMillen Ranking

In the United States, the name McMillen is the 3,527th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [2]

Ireland Migration of the McMillen family to Ireland

Some of the McMillen family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States McMillen migration to the United States +

The hardy Scots who made the crossing settled all along the east coast of North America and in the great west that was just then opening up. At the time of the American War of Independence, many United Empire Loyalists moved north from the American colonies to Canada. Scottish national heritage became better known in North America in the 20th century through highland games and other patriotic events. An examination of immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name McMillen arrived in North America very early:

McMillen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John McMillen, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844 [3]
  • Alexander McMillen, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1864 [3]
  • J. C. McMillen, aged 32, who landed in America from Liverpool, in 1892
  • James B McMillen, who landed in Mississippi in 1895 [3]
McMillen Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Emily McMillen, aged 43, who immigrated to Minnesota, in 1904
  • Charlotte McMillen, aged 19, who immigrated to the United States from Motherwell, in 1906
  • William F. McMillen, aged 45, who landed in America, in 1908
  • Wm. J. S. McMillen, aged 29, who settled in America, in 1910
  • Isabella McMillen, aged 17, who immigrated to the United States from Belfast, Ireland, in 1910
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McMillen migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McMillen Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Percy E McMillen, aged 36, who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1909
  • Anthony John McMillen, aged 53, who immigrated to Rossland, Canada, in 1912
  • Dora L. McMillen, aged 34, who settled in Ontario, Canada, in 1923

New Zealand McMillen migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

McMillen Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Colin Mcmillen, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Spray of the Ocean" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 1st September 1859 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name McMillen (post 1700) +

  • Thomas Roberts McMillen (1916-2002), United States federal judge
  • Neil R. McMillen, American historian, and professor emeritus at University of Southern Mississippi, awarded the 1990 Bancroft Prize and was 1990 Pulitzer Prize finalist
  • Loring McMillen (1906-1991), American historian, Staten Island's official historian
  • Edmund McMillen (b. 1980), American video game designer and artist
  • Dale Wilmore McMillen (1880-1971), American proponent of the use of feed supplements in animal husbandry, founder of Wayne Feeds and Central Soya
  • Robert James "Bob" McMillen Jr. (b. 1970), American former arena football fullback/linebacker
  • William Linn McMillen (1829-1902), American surgeon and army general
  • Rolla Coral McMillen (1880-1961), American politician, U.S. Representative from Illinois (1944-1949) and (1949-1951)
  • James "Jim" McMillen (1902-1984), American football player for the Chicago Bears (1924-1928)
  • Charles Thomas "Tom" McMillen (b. 1952), American retired NBA professional basketball player and politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland (1987-1993)
  • ... (Another 6 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The McMillen Motto +

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.

  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.?".,
  3. 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)
  4. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from on Facebook