Motto: Miseris succurrere disco (I learn to succour the distressed)

The name MacMillan is an ecclesiastical one which is found in two forms in Gaelic: ‘MacMhaolain’, son of the bald or tonsured one, and ‘MacGillie-Mhaoil’, son of the servant of the bald one.  All those bearing the name MacMillan cannot be derived from a common ancestor.  The name was found variously amongst different families in differing parts of the country, where they must have originated separately.  

Buchanan of Auchmar, clan historian in the last century, worked out the descent of the MacMillans from Methlan, second son of Anselan, Chief of the Buchanans, but there is doubt around this claim.  Others say the MacMillans held lands around Loch Arkaig during the 12th century and that they were later removed to Crown lands around Loch Tay.  

The first record of the name is in 1263, when Gilliemor MacMolan appeared as a juror on an inquest in Lanarkshire.  Some three generations later, the clan became associated with the MacDonalds when c.1360 Malcolm Mor MacMillan received Knapdale from the Lord of the Isles.  The charter is said to have been inscribed on a rock.  It is claimed that the Campbells destroyed the original charter.  

When the direct line of the Chiefship died out c.1665, the title passed to the Dunmore branch, and from them to the Lagalgarve branch, in which it is still vested.  The name is distributed widely.  Common in Galloway, other pockets are found at Lochaber, Urquart and Glenmoriston.  In some parts of Argyllshire, the MacMillans were known as Na Belich, the Bells.  

The oldest of all the MacMillan tartans is the Ancient MacMillan, which closely resembles the Buchanan tartan.  It first appeared in McIan’s work of 1845-7.