Mellon Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Mellon Meaning
There are three possible origins of the Mellon surname, one English,
one Scottish, and one Irish:

  • The English (and also possibly Scottish) origin of the name is
    the place-name Malaville in Normandy, with Mellon being a Norman name
    as an alternative to the more common Melville surname.
  • Mellon could also be a corruption of the MacMillan name where
    MacMillans were far from the home base in NW Scotland.
  • and the Mellon name found in Ulster can be a shortened anglicized
    form of the Gaelic O’Meallain,
    descendant of Meallain.  
    Meallain is a personal name,
    a diminutive of meall meaning

The Mellon family of
Pennsylvania who emigrated from northern Ireland were said to have been
Scottish in origin. There was a Millan coat of arms which clearly
claimed a
connection with the 18th century MacMillans of Dunmore

Mellon Resources on

Mellon Ancestry

and Scotland. 
A Norman de Melville family apparently made
their way to Scotland by the 13th century.  The family
held lands in Midlothian and later in Fife.  Mellon was one
corrupted form of Melville as that was how Melville was pronounced in
NE Scotland.  Some Mellons found in the Cumberland registers in
the north of England in the 1700’s seem to have been MacMillians with
the “Mac” lopped off.

There were Mellons in the 1881 census in Scotland, but not many of them
– less than 200 – and most of them around Glasgow.
England had a few more, mainly in Lancashire.

The O’Meallain surname

originated near Dungannon
in SE Tyrone.  O’Meallain was generally anglicized as Mellon in
Tyrone and county Derry and as Mallon in south Tyrone and county

Redmond Mellon, a Catholic from county Derry, emigrated with
his family to
Pennsylvania in 1847.  Patrick and Bridget Mellon
from Maghera in Derry moved to Newcastle in 1860.  Other Mellons
from Maghera were to be found in Glasgow.  Robert Mellon left home
14 to join the Navy and ended up in the small mining village of Kilsyth
in Scotland.   

Mellon family in Tyrone was Scots Irish.  These
Mellons had come into Ireland from
Scotland in the middle of the 17th century and settled in
Castletown.  In 1816 Archibald Mellon emigrated to the United
and his son Andrew and family were to follow two years later.  Other Mellons, it is thought from this family,
crossed back
to Scotland.  Descendants here were the
diplomat Sir James Mellon, the son of a Glasgow schoolteacher, and his
the fund
manager and entrepreneur Jim Mellon.

America.  Judge Thomas
, the son of emigrant
Andrew Mellon from Tyrone, was the patriarch of the Mellon family in
America.  He it was with his two sons who
founded the
Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh in 1869.  

Bank was to be the driving force in the financing of the new industries
that sprung up in America in the next fifty years –  in oil,
aluminium, consumer electronics, and financial services.  The
Mellon family often used the bank as a proxy for their own investments
in these companies:

  • Thomas’s
    son Andrew Mellon became one of the richest Americans of his
    He is remembered not only as an industrialist and financier but also as
    an art
    collector.  He served as US Secretary to the Treasury from 1921 to
    1932.  Andrew
    Mellon’s marriage
    , however, turned out to be disastrous.
  • his
    brother Richard Beatty Mellon was also a major financier and his line
    has continued to be
    important in Pittsburgh’s civic causes.
  • while their nephew William
    Larimer Mellon
    co-founded the Gulf Oil company in Pittsburgh in 1907.

Thomas Mellon’s
comprised one of America’s
wealthiest families.  They built their palatial estates outside
Pittsburgh.  Burton Hersh’s 1978
book The Mellon Family chronicled the family history.

Another Mellon from Tyrone – Edward Mellon – emigrated to
Milwaukee in 1833.   He was a seaman on the Great Lakes and a
survivor of the Lady Elgin
disaster on Lake Michigan in 1860.

.  John and Mary
Mellon left Tyrone in the early 1830’s for Lennox and Addington county
in SE Ontario.  Lake Mellon there was named after them.  The
family history was recounted in Russell D. Jones’s 1993 book Mellon Family of the 19th Century.

Australia.  Mellons from
Tyrone also came to Australia, settling in Queensland.


Mellon Miscellany

The O’Meallain/Mellon Surname in Tyrone.  Mellon has
Irish as well as Scots Irish roots in county Tyrone.
The origin is the Gaelic word meall, meaning
attractive or pleasant,
and its diminutive form meallán,
little pleasant one, which gives the name its basis.

The O’Mealláin family has particular ties
with the area around Donaghmore, near Dungannon, where they were
keepers of the Bell of St. Patrick.  Terlagh
O’Meallain, a friar of the Franciscan
Order in Brantry, kept a journal (which has been preserved) of events
the 1641 rebellion when he was chaplain to some of the Irish soldiers.

O’Meallain often became Mallin or Mullin, but
sometimes Mellon.  Ryan Mellon, for
instance, was a recent Gaelic footballer from

Scots Mellons in Tyrone.  Archibald Mellon was the first of the Mellons from Scotland to settle in Tyrone sometime
in the mid 17th century.  Samuel, one of
Archibald’s three sons, inherited a farm on the Fairy Water near Omagh;
the two other sons, Archibald and Mark, were given the family
homestead.  Samuel’s descendants later
purchased Mark’s property and it was they who emigrated to
Pennsylvania, with a
young Thomas Mellon later in tow, in 1816.
Other Mellons from this family had migrated twenty years earlier
to America
and settled in Crawford county, Pennsylvania where they farmed.

Harriet Mellon, the famed actress who married
a wealthy banker and later became the Duchess of St. Albans, was said
to have
been of the Fairy Water branch in Tyrone.
Her putative father here was Matthew Mellon, a man who had
enlisted with
the East India Company before returning to England to recuperate from
exertions.  There he married, but died
soon afterwards.  Other sources have her
born illegitimately to Matthew Mellon, a Portsmouth theater manager who
her out on her acting  career.

Thomas Mellon’s Presbyterianism.  Thomas Mellon
was born into a Scots Irish Presbyterian household in Ireland. Coming
to America
in 1818 with his family when he was five, he worked his way through law
school in
Pittsburgh to become a lawyer specializing in debt foreclosures.

became a wealthy man when he married Sarah
Jane Negley, the daughter of John Jacob Negley who himself had married
wealth.  With his wife’s funds he
purchased substantial Pittsburgh area real estate holdings and later
served ten
years as a county judge with a reputation for issuing stern punishments.

despite his new-found wealth, the
austerity of his Presbyterian upbringing remained with him.  His country home at 401 Negley in East
Liberty was gloomy and forbidding inside.
He disdained
the vulgar ostentation which he feared
was “common among those grown suddenly rich,” whom he dismissed as
the “shoddyocracy,” and his house was devoid of any elaborate
ornamentation.  The blinds were often drawn
and the interior
was a drab amalgam of Brussels carpets, heavy draperies and somberly
walls, with no pictures of any artistic merit.

1869 with two
of his sons Andrew and Richard, he established the family business T.
& Sons Bank.  This bank was to finance
railroads, fund the first oil gushers in Texas, and underwrite the new
metal, aluminum.

Thomas Mellon and His Descendants

Thomas Mellon (1813-1908), the founder of Mellon Bank

– Thomas A. (Tom) Mellon (1844-1899), his eldest son

– James Ross Mellon (1846-1934), banker and philanthropist
– William Larimer Mellon Sr (1868-1949), he founded Gulf Oil
company in 1907
– William Larimer Mellon Jr (1910-1989),
founder of the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Haiti

– Andrew (AW) Mellon (1855-1937), one of the longest serving US Treasury Secretaries in history
– Alisa Mellon Bruce (1901-1969), prominent Pittsburgh socialite
– Paul Mellon (1907-1999), philanthropist and horserace breeder

– Richard Beatty (RB) Mellon (1858-1933), prominent banker and philanthropist
– Richard King Mellon (1899-1970), active in Pittsburgh’s urban
– Sarah Mellon Scaife (1903-1965)
– Richard Mellon Scaife (born 1932), owner and publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Andrew Mellon’s Marriage.  Andrew Mellon comes across in David Carradine’e 2006 biography Mellon as a cold, isolated and taciturn banker and businessman.

one act of
impulsiveness turned out to be disastrous.
At the age of 43, he repudiated his father’s training, abandoned
pretense of good sense, and proposed marriage to a woman half his age.  Nora McMullen of Hertfordshire and Andrew
Mellon of Pittsburgh were married in September 1900.

Nora “was appalled and bewildered by
Pittsburgh,” unprepared for domesticity, and angry that her husband
spent more
time at the bank than at home.  When he
was at home she was frustrated that he had so little to say to her.  After four years, Nora demanded a divorce so
that she could live with the man she had been seeing for past two years.

tried to talk her out of her “‘madness”
and for a short time she was placated.
But in 1909, she repeated her demands, threatening to make
“ring with scandal.”  She would accuse
him of being infected with venereal disease, of having procured an
abortion for
a young girl, and of keeping a woman in New York.

now in his mid-fifties, chose to do battle
in the divorce courts.  The divorce
proceedings became, as Nora had threatened, “the talk of Pittsburgh and
utter embarrassment for Andrew,” as well as a burden that their two
children, Ailsa
and Paul, would have to live with for the rest of their lives.  In the end, the divorce decree was granted and
Andrew was given custody of the children for eight of the twelve months
of the year.

The Mellons and the Olmsteds.  The Mellons turned to the Olmsteds to help design their palatial new homes in the Pittsburgh area.  William Larimer Mellon, the founder of Gulf
Oil, asked their firm to landscape his residence in Squirrel Hill in 1901.  Ben Elm was designed in the Arts-and-Craft style and stood there until 1951.

two even more
wealthy Mellon uncles turned to the firm.  First there was Richard
Mellon’s estate at Fifth & Shady, which is now Mellon Park; while
daughter Sarah Mellon Scaife’s home next door at 1081 Shady,
re-landscaped by
the Olmsteds in 1931, was named Rolling Rock Penguin Court.

imported some penguins with the idea
of breeding and raising them; but unfortunately, being inhabitants of
arctic regions, they did not take to the Pennsylvania climate.  Too far removed from their native habitat,
they all died.”

house is
now the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.  Meanwhile
Andrew W. Mellon’s own house on Woodland Road has become the
centerpiece of Chatham University.

The Death of Edward Mellon in Milwaukee.  The Milwaukee Sentinel reported the following death in 1904:

“Edward Mellon, the
oldest survivor of the Lady Elgin disaster, died yesterday at
Milwaukee home at the age of 85 years.  He
was for over thirty years constable of the
4th ward and he has also held positions in the tax commissioner’s
office and as
a paving inspector.  He had retired from active work several years
ago and had
been ill for some time as a result of a stroke of paralysis.

He was a member of the union guard which made
the excursion on the Lady Elgin.  He made his escape from
the doomed boat
on a raft and was in the water forty-eight hours before he succeeded in
at Winetka five miles from the disaster.  His family cherishes a
letter written
by him shortly afterward in which he relates his experiences.

Born in county Tyrone in Ireland in 1819, Edward
Mellon came to this country when he was fourteen years of
age.  He was married in New Jersey to Annie Talbot and came to
Milwaukee to
reside in 1855. He leaves two daughters and three sons.”

The Lady Elgin
was a wooden steamship which sank in Lake Michigan in 1860, with the
loss of some 300 lives.  Most of those on the ship were from the
Milwaukee Irish community.

Reader Feedback – Mellons in Australia.  These Mellons are all good horsemen from Tyrone.  My father
deceased was John Patrick Mellon in Goondiwindi, Queensland.  His father was Robert John Mellon in Drayton,
Toowoomba, also in Queensland.

When my grandfather Robert came to Queensland he had a
car which he swapped for a
horse and wagonette.  He married Mary Lawrence Charleville and was buried in Drayton
cemetery.  It seems that the line from Robert went
back to Joseph Mellon from Fermanagh who married Mary Ann Thompson and
first settled in Victoria, possibly in the 1850’s.

Dawn Mellon (


Mellon Names

  • Harriet Mellon was an
    English actress who starred at Drury Lane in London in the early 1800’s.  She was widely celebrated for her beauty and married a wealthy banker.
  • Thomas Mellon founded the
    Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh in 1869 and was the patriarch of the Mellon family in America.
  • Andrew Mellon was an
    industrialist and financier who served as US Treasury Secretary from 1921 to 1932.
  • Niall Mellon is an international property developer from Dublin who started a trust to provide homes for impoverished communities in South Africa’s townships.

Select Mellon Numbers Today

  • 2,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Mellon and Like Surnames.

From our selection, these are the surnames of those who have made their business mark in America – as pioneers, inventors, developers, or corporate leaders – over its long history from colonial to modern times.




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