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The name MacLellan arises from the Anglicisation of the Gaelic ‘MacGhille Fhaolain’, meaning ‘son of the servant of St. Fillan’; Fillan a diminutive of the Old Irish ‘fail’ meaning a wolf.  

MacLellans were numerous in Galloway during the latter part of the 14th century, where they gave their name to Balmaclellan (MacLellan’s Town).  It has been claimed that the lands were granted to John MacLellan by James III in February 1466, when his name was given to the land on his bestowing a site for a new church.  Others look to other sources; a charter of lands of Balmaclelane to John M’Lelane filius Dungalli Johnsone, from Vedastus Greresone, dominus de Lag, in 1466.  

First record of the name was Patrick, son of Gilbert M’Lolane, who took the Castle of Dumfries from the followers of Bruce in 1305-06.  Some MacLellans in the Aberfeldy district of Perthshire are regarded as a sept of the MacNabs, lay abbots of Glendochart.  There were also MacLellans in Morar in Inverness-shire.  

The Clelands of Cleland, who were hereditary foresters to the Earls of Douglas, likewise derive their name from St. Fillan, as do the Gilfillans.  Other sources link the name to the MacDonalds.  The MacDonald clan has them as Glengarry MacDonalds; these being the Morar MacLellans.  The MacLennens have also claimed this name as a variant of their own, although the name was clearly not restricted to them.  

Therefore, in addition to using any of the setts named MacLellan, people of this name might choose to wear the tartans and crest of one some of these clans: MacDonald, MacNab, MacLennen or Douglas.