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Origins of the McClelland Name

The following is quoted from the Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography, Volume XV, published in New York by the Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1924.
The name McClelland, in its original form of Maclellan, is of great antiquity in the south of Scotland, where in ancient times members of the family served as sheriffs or Galloway. This province is peculiarly picturesque, storied and romantic, appealing alike to the lover of wild nature and the student of British history. Kirkcudbright, with its harbor at the head of the estuary carries volumes of romantic story in its streets and in its ivy-mantled castle. The town of Kirkcudbright is the "Kippletringan" of Scott's imperishable tale of the "Guy Mannering." For many centuries the race of the Maclellans has been distinguished in the history of Scotland.

Sir Robert Maclellan, on May 25, 1633, was created a peer by King Charles, the First, by the title of Lord Kirkcudbright to him and his male heirs, bearing his name and arms.

The arms granted to Lord Kirkcudbright were the following:

Arms-- Argent, two chevrons sable.
Crest-- A naked hand, supporting on the point of a sword a Moor's head.
Supporters-- Dexter, a man armed at all points, holding a baton in his hand; sinister, a horse furnished.
Motto-- Think On.

The families in the United States bearing the names of Maclellan, McLellan, McClellan, and McClelland doubtless all sprang from one original stock in the Southwestern part of Scotland, and are entitled to display the escutcheon.

William McClelland, founder of the Pennsylvania branch of the family, was born in Ireland, as was his wife, Ruth (Carlo) McClelland. He emigrated to the American colonies, and after Path Valley, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, was opened for settlement he made entry for land there, June 3, 1762.


Another account is from Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania, Biography, by John W. Jordan, LL.D., Vol. III, New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1914, page 872.
It is thought that all the families in the United States bearing the name of McClellan, McLellan, Maclellan and McClelland are derived from one original stock having its home in the southwestern part of Scotland. About 1646, during the religious war, many families of the name removed from Scotland to Ireland, the migration being probably known in Ireland as the "Ulster Plantation," the settlements being made near Belfast and Dungannon. About 1760-70 numerous families, both from Scotland and Ireland, emigrated to the American colonies, settling in Nova Scotia, New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas. Theologically, the McClellans inclined toward Calvinism. Politically, they were largely Federalists and Whig and are now principally Republican. In Scotland they were loyal to the king, in Ireland they wore the "Orange."

"Laird" McClellan, founder of the Chester county (Pennsylvania) branch of the family, was of Bannagachen, Ireland, and in 1685 was banished to the American colonies on account of the part he had taken in the wars. He was accompanied by three of his children and the family settled in the New Jersey Neighborhood, where they remained until 1689, when news of a favorable change in affairs at home caused the "Laird" to resolve to return. On the voyage he was taken prisoner by the French, but finally arrived at home on the last day of October, 1691. The children remained in America and became the progenitors of the Chester county branch of the family.


The following excerpt is from The Surnames of Scotland by George F. Black, Ph.D., The New York Public Library and Readex Books, first printed in 1946, fourth printing in 1974, LOC #A47-1716.
MACCLELLAN, Macclelland, Macleland, Maclalland, Maclellan, and Maclelland. G. Mac Gill' Fhaolain (the Gillafaelan of the genealogical ms. of 1467), "son of the servant of (S.)Fillan." Fillan, EIr. Faelan, OIr. Failan, is a reduced form of faelchu, from fail, now faol, "a wolf." Maclellans were numerous in Galloway in the latter end of the fourteenth century, and they gave name to Balmaclellan (i.e. Maclellan's town) in the Stewartry. M'Kerlie (III, p. 62) says the lands were granted to John Maclellan by James III in February, 1466, when his name was given to the lands on his bestowing a site for a new church, but I have found no record of this. The lands are mentioned in 1457, in which year Sir Alexander Boyd had sasine of them (ER., vi, p. 347). John M'Lelane filius Dungalli Johnsone had a charter of the lands of Balmaclelane from Vedastus Greresone, dominus de Lag, which received the royal confirmation in August, 1466 (RMS., ii, 907). The earliest record of the surname is in 1305-6 when Patrick, son of Gilbert M'Lolane, with several others took the Castle of Dumfries from followers of Bruce (Bain, iv, 389).
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