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.
In reality the de Mandevilles sold their estates in northern Antrim to the McQuillans by the 1460s. The McQuillans had originally come to Ulster from southwestern Scotland to aid the earls of Ulster as mercenaries. 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. The McQuillans renamed the lands they acquired "the Route", derived from their "rout", a common term then for a private army.
The surname can also originate as an anglicisation of the Gaelic Mac Cuilinn, a patronymic form of a name derived from cuileann ("holly"). The surname can also originate from as an anglicisation of the Irish Gaelic Mac Coilín and Scottish Gaelic Mac Cailein, patronymic forms of the names Coilín and Cailean respectively.
List of persons with the surname
- Malcolm MacQuillan (died 1307), Scottish magnate
- 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
- Kevin McQuillan, a professor at the University of Calgary’s school of public policy 
- Matt McQuillan (born 1981), Canadian professional golfer
- Michael McQuillan (1973- ) Dublin artist, musician, poet and photo exhibitor
- Michael McQuillan, Scottish mathematician
- Rachel McQuillan (born 1971), retired Australian professional tennis player
- Tony McQuillan (born 1951), Australian Test cricket match umpire
- The Book of Ulster Surnames, The Black Staff Press, ISBN 0-85640-602-3
- Bardon, Jonathan, A History of Ulster, page 45. The Black Staff Press, 2005. ISBN 0-85640-764-X
- MacQuillan Clan Association
- McQuillan Name Meaning and Origin Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4(Ancestry.com) Retrieved on 2007-11-01
- Oxford Dictionary of Family Names: McQuillan, Answers.com, retrieved 28 January 2013. This webpage is a partial transcription of Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, 2006.
- Oxford Dictionary of Family Names: McCullen, Answers.com, retrieved 28 January 2013. This webpage is a partial transcription of Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, 2006.
|This page or section lists people with the surname McQuillan. If an internal link intending to refer to a specific person led you to this page, you may wish to change that link by adding the person's given name(s) to the link.|