The surname of McCLELLAN was derived from the gaelic MAC GILL FHAOLAIN - the son of the servant. The family were numerous in Galloway in the latter end of the 14th Century, and they gave their name to Balmaclellan in the Stewarty. Lands were granted to John Maclellan by James III in February 1466, when his name was given to the lands for bestowing a site for a new church. Donald Maklellane appears as a Steward of Kirkcudbright in 1457. Most of the families of the name in Ireland are of Scottish origin, taken by settlers. The old Ui Fiachrach sept of Mac Giolla Fhaolain in County Sligo appears to be almost extinct, though is possibly survives as Gilfillan in Leitrim. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. 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. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 100O. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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