This name was derived from the Gaelic Mac Gill Fhaolain, the son of the servant. The family were numerous in Galloway at the end of the fourteenth century, and they gave their name to Balmaclellan. It is said that the lands were granted to John Maclellan by James III, in Febuary 1466, when his name was given to the lands on his bestowing a site for a new church. The earliest of the name on record was one Patrick, son of Gilbert M'Lolane, with several others, took the castle of Dumfries from followers of Bruce. Gillebertus MacLelan was elected the bishop of Man and the Sudreys (the South Isles) about the year 1325, and Gilbert McLolan was a charter witness in 1347. In 1381 John Makolayn was documented in Forfarshire, and Ingeram M'Gillelan held lands there in 1372. Peter M'Lellan was one of the first to receive from the Crown a grant of land in 1775. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered in Barclay, Scotland in the year 1719.
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