McGill Origins

The McGills are a sept of Clan Donald. The name (mac an Ghiolla) means 'son of the stranger'. The McGills (clann a' ghoill) have their own tartan, badge and slogan. McGill is a very common name in Galloway and Jura on the western coast of Scotland, and is also found in Ireland.

The clan badge is the crest from the coat of arms of the vicount of Oxenford, Lord MakGill of Cousland (title now extinct) and is in the form of a phoenix rising from the flames and on the surrounding belt is the motto- 'SINE FINE'.

Sine Fine is Latin for Without End a quite appropriate motto to accompany a phoenix, although I am unaware of any family legend relating to it. The actual arms on the crest are 3 gold martlets (birds) on a red shield. Sine Fine is used as the motto in Ireland, Wales, and England, while Scots and Ulster McGills use In Domino Confido. The crest is the same for both mottos.

The phoenix has some interesting associations. In Egyptian mythology the phoenix was called the Bennu bird and associated with the benben stone, thought to be an depicted as a meteorite. Some tradition hold that the Stone of Destiny, which was used in ceremony by the ancient Scottish Kings of Dal Raida, is also a meteorite. The name McGill, is derived from a name that is one of the earliest septs associated with Clan Donald. The most famous association of Clan Donald is that with Somerled, the last and most persecuted of all the Kings of Dalraida, who nonetheless had one of the longest reigns. There could be a relationship between the phoenix and the Stone of Destiny in Dalraidan culture.

According to the Oxenford peerage and that at Ballynester, Ireland are related with almost identical crest. The actual arms are 3 gold martlets on a red shield. The Scottish houses at Rankiellor and Ramgally have the same arms with the motto: In Domino Confido.

Original spellings are McGill, Magill, M'Gill, Mcgill, and MacGill. Irish Catholic McGills come from Scotland and were given land in Ireland in the 1300's. They were related to the English and Welsh McGills. Protestant Irish McGills come from Scotland during the Plantation of Ulster in the 1600's. Consider your line's traditions when researching. Also, Catholic Scots who were driven from the Highlands in the 1750's settled in Nova Scotia. 1


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Barry McGill