McQuillan and MacQuillan are a surnames of Irish and Scottish origin. There are several unrelated origins of the surnames McQuillan and MacQuillan.

The Ulster variant of the surname was claimed to be an anglicisation of the Gaelic Mac Uighilín (son of Hugelin), the name allegedly adopted by the family of Hugelin de Mandeville. The de Mandevilles were a Cambro-Norman family and had conquered an area of north Antrim.[1]

In reality the de Mandeville's sold their estates in north Antrim to the McQuillans by the 1460s.[2] The McQuillans had originally come to Ulster from south-west Scotland to aid the earls of Ulster as mercenaries.[2] Both families had previously held the office of "constable of the bonnaght" for the Earldom of Ulster - a system adopted from the Irish where mercenaries where hired to act as a body of standing troops.[3] The McQuillans renamed the lands they acquired "the Route", derived from their "rout", a common term then for a private army.[2]

These McQuillans played a large role in the history of County Antrim.[4] They are the previous owners of Dunluce Castle, located in the north of County Antrim.[citation needed]

The name is also an anglicisation of the Gaelic Mac Cuilinn.[4] The Scottish variant of the surname, of Irish origin, is an anglicisation of the Irish Gaelic Mac Coilín and Scottish Gaelic Mac Cailein, (The patronymic forms of Coilín and Cailean.[4]

List of persons with the surname

  • Adrian McQuillan (born 1965), Northern Irish politician
  • George McQuillan (1885-1940), American Major League baseball pitcher
  • Jack McQuillan (1920–1998), Irish politician
  • Jim McQuillan (computer programmer), founder and project leader of the Linux Terminal Server Project
  • Jim McQuillan (darts player) (born 1940), Irish former darts player
  • John McQuillan (born 1970), Scottish former professional footballer
  • Matt McQuillan (born 1981), Canadian professional golfer
  • Michael McQuillan (1973- ) Dublin artist, musician, poet and photo exhibitor
  • Rachel McQuillan (born 1971), retired Australian professional tennis player
  • Tony McQuillan (born 1951), Australian Test cricket match umpire
  • William McQuillan (1886-1912) Belfast, Stoker (Fireman) on Titanic, died when she sank.


  1. ^ The Book of Ulster Surnames, The Black Staff Press, ISBN 0-85640-602-3
  2. ^ a b c Bardon, Jonathan, A History of Ulster, page 45. The Black Staff Press, 2005. ISBN 0-85640-764-X
  3. ^ MacQuillan Clan Association
  4. ^ a b c McQuillan Name Meaning and Origin Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4( Retrieved on 2007-11-01

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