- Recorded as McQuillan and sometimes McQuillin, this is an Irish surname. Curiously though it was not in origin Gaelic, in that the first family were of Norman- Welsh descent, from one Hugeline de Mandeville, a landowner in Wales. This knight was however a follower of Strongbow, earl of Pembroke, who entered Ireland in 1169, to support his father-in-law, the king of Wexford. Later Mandeville supported King Henry 11nd of England when he completed the Invasion in the following year, and was granted territory called "The Route" in County Antrim, where subsequently the clan became known as the lords of the Route. Their chief residence was at the castle of Dunluce, until in 1580, when they were finally defeated by the MacDonnells. By that time they had become indistinguishable from any native Gaelic sept, and were described as princes of Dalriada, and ranked as hereditary High Constables of Ulster. The name McQuillan derives from "Mac Uighilin", meaning the son of Hugelin (the ancestor mentioned above), which is itself a diminutive of Hugh. Amongst the many notable namebearers famous for their bravery in battle, was Rory Og McQuillan, chief of the clan, who in 1541, declared, "No Captain of this race ever died in his bed". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sincin Mor MacQuillan,. This was dated 1390 - 1449, and recorded at Route, County Antrim, during the reign of King Art MacMurrough, King of Leinster, 1376 - 1417. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.