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Irish name: MacPhilib, MacPilib
Ireland location Monaghan.jpg
Ethnicity Irish, Scottish, Celtic[1]
Current region Ulster
Earlier spellings MacPhilip, MacPhillip, McPhilip, MacPhillips
Etymology patronymic form meaning "son of Philip"
McKillop, Philbin, Phillips, Phillipson
Surnames are of different origin.
Place of origin County Monaghan, Ireland[2]






  • Cohesion, Kevin McPhillips is founding member & lead guitarist of the Manchester Band
  • The Coronas, Dave McPhillips is lead guitarist of the Irish Indie Rock Band
  • John McPhillips, Irish composer


Connected families In Ireland:
McMahon, McArdle, Mathews
In Scotland: see McKillop
Motto A cruce salus: Salvation comes from the cross

The McPhillips surname may be of Scottish or Irish origin,[4][5][6] the surname is found predominantly in Ireland, in Cavan, Fermanagh and Monaghan counties. [2][7][8]

Etymology and early Irish origins[edit]

The Christian name Philip was brought to Britain and Ireland by the Normans in the 12th century and was soon gaelicised to Pilib. The surname is of patronymic form and derives from the Gaelic Mac Pilib / Mac Philib, meaning "son of Philip",

Historian Peadar Livingstone claims it is possible that some Maguire's of Fermanagh may have anglicised to McPhillips,[9] but generally the surname owes its origins to Pilib mac Séamus Mac Mathghamhna (Philip MacJames MacMahon).[7][10][11]

The McPhillips surname was found to be the 31st most numerous in County Monaghan in 1970. It is almost exclusive in Dartry where it is the 7th most common surname.[12] In Connacht, Phillips is an Anglicisation of McPhilbin which is one of the Hibernicised branches of the Burke clan. The surname was used interchangeably with Mac Philib & McPhillips, but most later dropped the Mc/Mac prefix.[2][5][8]

Early Scottish origins[edit]

In Scotland, different variations of the surname can be found in Inverness-shire and Argyllshire. The most common version is McKillop, which can be represented in Scottish Gaelic as MacFhilib and MacPhilip. [4][8][13] The McPhillips surname is largely found in the Scottish Lowlands around Lanarkshire and West Lothian, where the surname is the 37th most common surname; the 1841 Scotland Census records indicated that most were of Irish origin at that time.[14][15]

See also[edit]

Place names[edit]


  1. ^ McPhillips at Ancestry
  2. ^ a b c [1], (search by typing "McPhillips"
  3. ^ [2] Who's Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, 1911. C. W. Parker, editor. Canadian Press Association, Vancouver.
  4. ^ a b David Dorward. Scottish Surnames. Published by Collins in 1995, Mercat Press (2002 new edition); ISBN 978-1-84183-045-2
  5. ^ a b The Surnames of Ireland; by Edward MacLysaght, p. 245, Irish Academic Press (December 1989); ISBN 978-0-7165-2366-6
  6. ^ DeBhudbh, Sean Slionnte Uile Éireann:All Ireland Surnames, page 284, published by Comhar-Chumann Ide Naofa in 2002
  7. ^ a b McMahon Genealogy page 7
  8. ^ a b c Robert Bell. Book of Ulster Surnames, p. 214, The Blackstaff Press (1988); ISBN 0-85640-602-3
  9. ^ The Fermanagh Story by Peadar Livingstone published by Enniskillen: Clogher Historical Society in 1969 page 441 (Note: says it's possible & probable)
  10. ^ Peadar Livingstone, The Monaghan Story, published by Enniskillen: Clogher Historical Society (1980), pp. 69, 605; ISBN 0-9501047-4-4
  11. ^ jstor A Dictionary of the Catholic Clergy of the Diocese of Clogher (1535–1835) (continued) by Rev. Pádraig Ó Gallachair, Clogher Record, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1957), p. 176
  12. ^ Peadar Livingstone, The Monaghan Story, published by Enniskillen: Clogher Historical Society (1980), pp. 576–77; ISBN 0-9501047-4-4
  13. ^ IrishAbroad: McPhillips surname
  14. ^ McPhillips surname,; accessed 2 January 2014.
  15. ^ Note: 15 McPhillips were listed in the 1841 Scotland Census records; 11 born in Ireland;