McMillan Surname Genealogy

Macmillan is the anglicized form of the old Gaelic word Macghillemhaoil, later shortened to Machmaolain. The Gaelic mac means “son of,” gille “a servant” and maol “the tonsured one.”
The progenitor of the Macmillan clan was said to be Airbertach, a Hebridean prince of the old royal house of Moray. Airbertach had a son named Cormac and his son Gilchrist, or in Gaelic Gille Chrisosd, was the forebear of the clan an Mhaoil. He was a religious man
like his father and wore the tonsure (done by cutting his hair from
the scalp) which gave
him the nickname Maolan or Gillemaol.
Gillemor Macmolen was recorded as a juror in Lanarkshire in 1263.
The 15th century saw Macmolane and Macmilane spellings and Macmillan
gradually emerged.
Macmillan may be the older spelling today. But the McMillan
spelling is more common
in the UK and elsewhere.
Select McMillan Resources on The Internet

McMillan Ancestry

The Macmillan clan had established themselves at Lochaber in the
western Highlands in the 14th century. They became the MacMillans
of Murlagan and remained there for several centuries until dispersed by
the Camerons. Some MacMillans under Alexander MacMillan had moved
further south to
where they built Castle Sween and entrenched
themselves. They proudly boasted:

“MacMillan’s right to Knap shall be
As long as this rock withstands the sea.”

But that position too was lost and MacMillans moved
further south again, to the Isle of Arran and Galloway.
Many of the Macmillans in Galloway became Covenanters, to such an
extent that Covenanters there were often called “Macmillans.” And
were still later migrations to Ayrshire and to the new industrial
like Glasgow.

Ireland. McMillan links
with Ireland
began with the Scottish plantations of the 17th
century. One of the
leading planters in Ulster at that time was Robert McLellan of
Galloway. Many McMillans
from his estates were among the tenants of the new lands he was
granted in Ireland.

Later in the century, during the “killing times” in Galloway when the
restored monarchy attempted to impose an Episcopalian church on an
unwilling populace, many Presbyterians fled across the water to
join their cousins in Ulster. Prominent among them were the
“McMillanites” – followers of the Rev. John McMillan of Balmaghie, the
founder of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

. Daniel and Alexander Macmillan
two brothers
from Ayrshire with family roots as crofters in the Isle of Arran – came
to England in the 1840’s and started a bookshop in Cambridge. The
brothers soon started publishing books as well as selling them.
Daniel was the business brain, while Alexander laid the literary
foundation. After Daniel’s death in 1857, Alexander moved to
London to run
Macmillan & Co, soon expanding it into a worldwide publishing
organization. Daniel was the grandfather of British Prime
Minister Harold Macmillan.

America. Scots and Scots
Irish McMillans came to America in the 18th century. The
McMillans were particularly notable in North Carolina and North
Carolina still has the largest number of McMillans in the
country. Among the early arrivals were:

  • Malcolm McMillan, who came from Scotland in 1774.
    His descendants moved to south Georgia. Robert McMillan’s 1973
    book Record of McMillan and Allied Families
    described this line.
  • Neill McMillan, who was born in Bladen county in 1788. He
    fought in the War of 1812 and then moved onto Alabama and Missouri.
  • and John McMillan who was the first clerk of the court for Ashe
    county, North Carolina. These McMillans were farmers and
    merchants there for more than a hundred years.

John and Mary
Scotland for Ireland and then departed for America in 1758. They settled in Washington county, New York. Their story was narrated in W.F. and C.E.
McMillan’s 1908 book McMillan
Genealogy and History.

Donald L. Jones’s 1966 book McMillan/MacMillan
covered Scots Irish McMillans that came to America in the
18th century.

began to emigrate to
Canada by the late 1700’s after the Revolutionary War. Nova
Scotia came
to be favored
by the Glen Urquhart and Hebridean branches of the Macmillans; while
Ontario, or what was then Upper Canada, became the destination for many
Lochaber MacMillans. In 1802 Glengarry county, on Ontario’s
border with Quebec, received a particularly large influx of MacMillans
in their mass exodus from Loch Arkaigside.

Some of these new McMillan immigrants were to make names for

  • Angus McMillan, who had arrived
    in Prince Edward Island with his parents in
    1834, was a merchant, built ships, and participated in local
  • while
    two McMillans headed West to make it in Winnipeg: Daniel McMillan who became
    from his milling and grain business; and Hugh MacMillan a successful
    developer who later took his family to Florida during the land boom
    there in the 1920’s.

Australia and New Zealand.
MacMillan from Lochaber emigrated to Australia in 1837 and explored the
region of Victoria now known as Gippsland. Archibald and Flora
McMillan came out to Victoria with their family on the New Zealander in 1853.
Archibald lived to be ninety five. He died in 1871 after having
been hit by a bolting horse at the races.

McMillans also came to New Zealand. There was a Highland
contingent who had settled initially in Nova Scotia under Norman McLeod
and then migrated again in 1851 with other Highlanders to Waipu in New
Zealand. They had remained Gaelic in Nova Scotia. But once
in New Zealand they became New Zealanders.

William McMillan had arrived with his brothers from Ayrshire in
1865. He farmed at Lyttleton near Christchurch. John and
Catherine McMillan were in Christchurch at around the same time.
They ended up in Hokitika.

McMillan Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

McMillan Names

The Rev. John McMillan of
Balmaghie was the founder of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in
the Scottish blacksmith credited with the invention of the pedal
bicycle in 1839.
Daniel and Alexander Macmillan,
two brothers from the Isle of Arran, founded Macmillan Publishers in
Harold Macmillan was British
Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963.
Whitney MacMillan was the
American businessman from Minnesota who by 1995 had developed Cargill
into being the largest grain company in the world and the largest
privately held company.

Select McMillans Today

  • 22,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Glasgow)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 29,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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