The Clan/Sept History
The surname MacQuillan is derived from the personal name Hugelin, which is a
diminutive of Hugh. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Uighilin.
Church officials and medieval scribes often spelled early surnames as they
sounded. This practice often resulted in many spelling variations of even a
single name. Early versions of the name MacQuillan 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.
First found in county Antrim, where they were granted lands by Strongbow after
the Anglo/Norman invasion of Ireland in 1172.
In the mid-19th century, Ireland experienced one of the worst periods in its
entire history. During this decade in order to ease the pressure of the soil,
which was actually depleted by the effects of the previous years' grain crops,
landowners forced tenant farmers and peasants onto tiny plots of land that
barely provided the basic sustenance a family required. Conditions were
worsened, though, by the population of the country, which was growing fast to
roughly eight million. So when the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1840s hit,
starvation and diseases decimated the population. Thousands of Irish Families
left the country for British North America and the United States. The new
immigrants were often accommodated either in the opening western frontiers or as
cheap unskilled labor in the established centers. In early passenger and
immigration lists there are many immigrants bearing the name MacQuillan: Andrew,
Charles, James, John, Patrick, William McQuillan arrived in Philadelphia between
1840 and 1860; Edward, George, Patrick, Phillip, Roger and Thomas McQuillen all
arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.
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