This rare and interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon or Scottish origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, it is a variant of McMillan, which is an Anglicization of the Gaelic "MacMaolain", a patronymic from the byname "maolan", which is itself a diminutive of "maol", meaning bald, tonsured. The name normally referred to a wearer of the tonsure, and in a transferred sense, to a devotee of a particular saint. Secondly, it is a variant of Mill, which is either from a topographical name for someone who lived near a mill, or an occupational name for a worker at a mill, and, indeed, for the miller himself. The name is derived from the Middle English "mille, milne", a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "mylen(e)", which is itself from the Latin "molina", a derivative of "molere", to grind. The mill, whether powered by water, wind, or animals, was an important centre in every medieval settlement, it was usually operated by an agent of the local landowner. Examples of the surname recording taken from the church registers include Mary Mylyn, who married Roger Alee, at St Augustines, Watling Street, London on May 24th 1561, Katherine Millan, who married John Lynnitt at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on May 26th 1618,and John Milan, the son of William Milan, who also seems to have been recorded as 'Millan', christened at Hounslow, Middlesex, on May 30th 1841. The records also include Jean Melan, a Huguenot refugee, registered at the French Church, Threadneedle Street, London, on October 9th 1603, giving a further dimension to the surname spelling. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gillemor MacMolan, which was dated 1263, in the "Acts of the parliaments of Scotland", during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249-1286. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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