The name Maclean is derived from the Gaelic “mac gille Eoin” – son of the servant of John and derives from Gillean-na-Tuardhe, (“Gillean of the Battleaxe”). The son of Gillean signed the Ragman Roll as Gillemoir Macilyn in 1296, swearing fealty to Edward I of England. Gillemoir’s great-grandson was known as Iain Dhu Maclean.
Through the centuries the name Maclean has appeared in a surprisingly vast array of spellings. The spelling of “your” Maclean does not provide much information about your family history, or much help in determining whether your clan originated from Duart or Lochbuie. The Maclaines of Lochbuie spelled their name ‘Maclean’ until the mid 1700’s. As a result, names spelled ‘MacLean’ are not automatically Duart, but may be Lochbuie. Conversely, some modern McClains, and McLains may be Lochbuie or Duart.
Many clan members were Gaelic speaking and possibly illiterate. As Macleans spread across the world, official documents such as immigration and parish records may have been recorded by English-speaking clerks who would have recorded names phonetically or using presumed spellings.
Current records show that our proud family name has historically been spelled at least 152 different ways. The following is a list of the most commonly used spellings today. Is your spelling on this list? If not, let us know and we will add it!