Select McMillan Surname Genealogy

Here are some McMillan stories and accounts over the years:

Macmillans at Lochaber

Tradition has it that Clann 'ic 'illemhaoil Abrach (clan Macmillan of Lochaber) is the oldest branch of the clan.  It seems that some of the earliest descendants of Maolan were indeed "captains of clan Chattan" when that ancient clan still ruled Lochaber. 

The Macmillans of Murlagan and Glenpean held their lands on the north and west of Loch Arkaig from at least the mid-16th century until the end of the 18th century.  Captain Ewen Macmillan of Murlagan led the Macmillan company in Lochiel's regiment at Culloden in 1746. 

In 1802 Archibald Macmillan of Murlagan, together with Allan Macmillan of Glenpean, organized the mass emigration of Lochaber Macmillans to Glengarry in Canada. 

"That July, with more than 400 of his people in three ships, Archibald McMillan sailed from Fort William to Montreal, which was reached in September.  During the crossing the passengers had been given poor quality subsistence and at Montreal they had been forbidden by the ships’ captains to take with them what provisions they had saved.  McMillan successfully sued on their behalf."

Macmillans at Knapdale and Dunmore

Alexander MacMillan is said to have built the square tower at Castle Sween when he was Constable there in the 1470s; and it was his name that appearred on a late 15th century cross at Kilmoray Knap. 

"There is a stone cross in the old churchyard of Kilmoray Knap, upwards of twelve feet high, richly sculptured, which has upon one side the representation of an Highland chief engaged in hunting the deer, having the following inscription in ancient Saxon characters underneath the figure - 'Haec est crux Alexandri Macmillan.'"

A second cross bore the names of Alexander's son Malcolm and grandson Duncan. 

When the Campbells were installed as the lords of Knapdale in the early 16th century the MacMillans there entered a period of relative obscurity.  One tradition handed down was that the MacMillan line ended with a chief who had a tragic experience.  In order to defend the honor of his wife from the advances of a too powerful admirer, he attacked and slew the man.  In consequence he was forced to abscond.

The MacMillans re-emerged in 1666 as the lairds of Dunmore by Loch Tarbert (which may well have been the clan's principal seat in Knapdale in centuries past).  One of the MacMillan branches, having been engaged in the cattle-droving business, was able to purchase the lease of part of the clan's old lordship from the Campbells.  In 1742 Duncan MacMillan of Dunmore was recognized as "the representative of the ancient family of MacMillan of Knapdale," in other words chief of the clan.

Macmillans in Ireland

Macmillan links with Ulster developed in the 17th century when the Scottish government started encouraging the settlement of Protestants in that hitherto predominantly Roman Catholic province.  When William Buchanan of Auchmar wrote his account of the Macmillans in 1723 he reported that: 

"There are a great number also of Macmillans in the parishes of Leud and Armuy in the County of Antrim and other places of Ireland.  The persons of best account of them in that kingdom is Lieutenant John Macmillan of Killre in the county of Derry, having an estate of five hundred pound sterling per annum; also Doctor Macmillan in Lisburn, a person of good repute and circumstances; and Macmillan of Glenseise and others."

Kirkpatrick Macmillan and His Pedal Bicycle

Kirkpatrick Macmillan was born in Dumfriesshire, the son of a blacksmith.  As a young boy he saw a hobbyhorse being ridden along a nearby road and decided to make one for himself.  Upon completion, he realised what a radical improvement it would be if he could propel it without putting his feet on the ground. Working at his smithy, he completed his new machine in 1839. 

This first pedal bicycle was propelled by a horizontal reciprocating movement of the rider's feet on the pedals.  This movement was transmitted to cranks on the rear wheel by connecting rods; the machine was extremely heavy and the physical effort required to ride it must have been considerable. 

Nevertheless, Macmillan quickly mastered the art of riding it on the rough country roads and was soon accustomed to making the fourteen-mile journey to Dumfries in less than an hour.  His next exploit was to ride the 68 miles into Glasgow in June 1842.  The trip took him two days and he was fined five shillings for causing a slight injury to a small girl who ran across his path. 

He never thought of patenting his invention or trying to make any money out of it, but others who saw it were not slow to realize its potential, and soon copies began to appear for sale.

Daniel and Alexander Macmillan

Daniel and Alexander Macmillan, who went on to found the Macmillan book publishing empire in London, came from humble Scottish Highland stock.  Their father was a peasant farmer – deeply religious, strong-willed and hard-headed – who died from overwork and exposure when the brothers were still young. 

Daniel recalled his upbringing in later life in a letter written in 1850: 

“Next September 13th I shall be thirty seven.  It is now nearly thirty seven years since I made my first appearance on the stage of this world. 

The scene was laid in a most humble house on the brow of a hill overlooking the sea and getting, on clear days, a clear view of the Ayrshire coast.  High mountains covered with snow lay behind this little house.  The flocks of sheep with the hoggets were gathered into the fold by the shepherd’s care and the Almighty Shepherd watched over my mother and me.  He allowed her to train and help the formation of my spirit for twenty years.  She is gone from this world but her influence will never die."

Macmillan and McMillan

Macmillan may be the older spelling today.  But the McMillan spelling is more common in the UK and elsewhere.

Numbers (000's)

The Story of John McMillan and His Two Brothers

The family legend has it that in 1758 John McMillan, with his brothers Donald and Arthur, sailed from Ireland bound for the New World.  The vessel on which the brothers sailed was wrecked in mid-ocean.  The brothers were separated, but were all eventually picked up and carried to land, each supposing the others lost. 

John landed at New York, and travelling on the Hudson came to Charlotte (now Washington) county, making his home in what is now the town of Salem.  The next year he returned to Ireland for his wife and children and brought them to his new home in the wilds of America. 

One brother Donald landed at Philadelphia and his descendants were later to be found in points south.  The other brother Arthur was carried to Quebec and made his home there.  However, more recent investigation seems to demonstrate that the legend of the shipwreck and the three brothers was not founded upon

Daniel McMillan in Winnipeg

Daniel McMillan from Whitby in Ontario served as a young man with the Canadian Volunteers on the Niagara Frontier during the troubles of 1864.  He then came west as a Captain of the 1st Ontario Regiment in the Wolseley Expedition at the time of Red River Rebellion. 

However, he soon left the army to build a milling and grain business in Winnipeg with his brother William.  The Winnipeg City Mill was operating in 1877 and ten years later he was running the first steam-powered mill in the town.  He was the first President of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and subsequently started the Dominion Grain Elevator Company. 

Like other successful businessmen, he turned his attention to politics and served as the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba from 1900 to 1911.  He died - as Sir Daniel McMillan - in 1933 at the age of 87, after suffering a fall at his home in Winnipeg a few days earlier.

Return to Top of Page
Return to McMillan Main Page