Clan MacLellan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Clan MacLellan
MacGille Fhaolain – (son of a servant of Saint Fillan)
MottoThink On
Arms of Lord Kirkcudbright.svg
Clan MacLellan has no chief, and is an armigerous clan
The 10th Lord Kirkcudbright
Historic seatMacLellan's Castle
Last ChiefThe Rt. Hon. Camden Gray Maclellan

The Clan MacLellan is a Lowland Scottish clan.[1] The clan does not currently have a chief therefore it is considered an Armigerous clan.[1]



The name MacLellan is Scottish Gaelic in origin.[1] It is derived from MacGille Fholain which means son of the servant of St Fillan.[1] St Fillan was a missionary of the old church of Celtic Christianity.[1] There is also a village in Perthshire named after him and the name Fillan is derived from faelchu which means wolf in the Celtic language.[1] The MacLellans were numerous in Galloway.[1] The first MacLellan on record was Duncan MacLellan who appears on a charter of Alexander II of Scotland in 1217.[1]

Wars of Scottish Independence[edit]

During the Wars of Scottish Independence Maclellan of Bombie was among the close followers of Sir William Wallace when he left Kirkcudbright for France after the defeat at the Battle of Falkirk (1298).[1]

15th century and clan conflicts[edit]

It is said that during the early 15th century there were no fewer than fourteen knights in Galloway of the name MacLellan.[1] Sir Patrick MacLellan of Bombie's estates were forfeited as a result of marauding through the lands of the Clan Douglas.[1] However James II of Scotland restored the estates when Sir William MacLellan, son of Sir Patrick captured the leader of a band of gypsies who had been terrorizing the district.[1] William carried the head of the brigand to the king on the point of his sword.[1] This story is one explanation for the MacLellan clan crest, however a Moors' head has also been considered as an allusion to the Crusades.[1]

In 1452 Sir Patrick Maclellan of Bombie who was the Sheriff of Galloway was captured by William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas.[1] Douglas held MacLellan in Threave Castle for not joining a conspiracy against the king.[1] Sir Patrick's uncle held high royal office and obtained letters ordering Douglas to release his prisoner.[1] However Douglas had Patrick murdered when presented with the royal warrant, whilst he entertained his uncle's son, his cousin, at dinner.[1] There is a tradition that in revenge, the MacLellans used the celebrated Scottish cannon Mons Meg to batter down Threave Castle, of which there is little doubt.[1]

16th century and Anglo-Scottish Wars[edit]

During the Anglo-Scottish Wars Sir William Maclellan of Bombie was knighted by King James IV of Scotland but was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513 fighting for the king.[1] William's son, Thomas, was killed in Edinburgh at the door of St Giles' Cathedral by Gordon of Lochinvar in 1526.[1]

17th century and Civil War[edit]

The private coat of arms of Lord Kirkcudbright,[2] the last Chief of the Name and Arms of MacLellan.
armsargent two chevrons Sable;
crest— a naked cubit arm, supporting upon the point of a sword, erect, a moor's head, all ppr.;
supportersDexter: a chevalier in complete armour, holding in his right hand a baton, all ppr.; Sinister: a horse argent furnished gules;
MottoesThink on; and Superba frango

Sir Robert MacLellan, was a courtier both to James VI and Charles I.[1] In 1633 he was raised to the peerage as Lord Kirkcudbright.[1] During the Scottish Civil War the third Lord was such a zealous royalist that he incurred enormous debts in the king’s cause.[1] As a result, the estates were completely ruined.[1]

18th to 19th centuries[edit]

There were two claimants to the chief's title at the beginning of the 18th century and the dispute was finally settled by the House of Lords in 1761.[1] However the title became dormant again when the ninth Lord died in Bruges in 1832.[1]


MacLellan's Castle, found in Kirkcudbright in south-west Scotland was the seat of the chief of Clan MacLellan. The castle's beginnings lie in the Reformation of 1560 which led to the abandonment of the Convent of Greyfriars which had stood on the site now occupied by the castle since 1449.

Hebridean MacLellans[edit]

There are concentrations of MacLellans found in the Western Isles on Uist. The surname borne by these MacLellans is represented by the Gaelic Mac Gille Fhialain, instead of the usual form Mac Gille Fhaolain borne by other MacLellans.[3][note 1] The Uist MacLellans were once known collectively as Na Faolanaich. The North Uist MacLellans are also known as Clann Iain Mhóir, after Iain Mór (John Mor MacLellan), a seventeenth-century ancestor. It is possible that this family descends from South Uist MacLellans who migrated to North Uist.[3]

See also[edit]

  • Black Morrow, traditional story of the crest used in MacLellan heraldry.
  • Maure, the head of a Moor used in heraldry.


  1. ^ Other forms of the Gaelic surname borne by the Uist MacLellans include: Mac 'ill' Fhialain,[4] and MacIllFhialain.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 424 - 425.
  2. ^ A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire; p.44; By John Burke; Published by H. Colburn and R. Bentley, 1832; link
  3. ^ a b Matheson, W (1983). "Notes on North Uist Families". Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. 52: 318–372 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ MacLellan, A (1997). Stories From South Uist. Edinburgh: Birlinn. ISBN 1 874744 26 2 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Mac an Tàilleir, I (2016). "Ainmean Pearsanta" (DOCX). Retrieved 21 December 2018 – via Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

External links[edit]