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The McGills
The Hunt for an Ancestor, Continued—
Struck Another Trail

McGILLS. Historical notices of— From O’Hart’s Irish Landed Gentry.

Page 231.

CHARLES II. Forfeited A. D. 1689. (In a footnote I find what I may have overlooked as it is not in the index.)

"CAPT. JOHN MAGILL of County Down."

As the Governor says his ancestor and grand uncle came from County Antrim, twelve miles from Belfast, and as the County Down runs along the Lagan River (our last advices are that the River Lagan ran along County Down, and that Down did not run) to Belfast, with Antrim on one side and Down on the other, it may be that Patrick and Arthur McGill came from County Down within twelve miles of Belfast, for Down was at least one of the seats of the McGills from an early period.

Here is another item from my friend in the Congressional Library:

SIR JOHN McGILL, of McGill Hill, County Down, died in July, 1701, without leaving issue.


A. D. 1681 MacGill of Rankiellour (Scotland) gave a petition to the Council craving permission for his son, Sir James MacGill, to come to see him. * * *

NOTE-Here is the head of the House of MacGill, for the Laird's given or Christian name of the

Chief of Clan is never given. Just like the Chiefs of Clan in Ireland.

Here are his arms, etc., from the Encyclopedia of Heraldry :

MacGILL-Rankeillour, Scotland.

Arms - Gu. three Martlets ar.
Crest - A Martlet ar.
Motto - In Domini Confido.

NOTE - The arms of the Chief Laird or head of the family are always plainer than the branch Houses, who must show a difference by an addition to the arms-R. O.

McGill-Ramgally, Scotland (a branch).

Arms-Three Martlets ar. with bordure,
eng. v. of the last.

Eight years before the above request or petition of MacGill of Rankeillour was preferred to Council, his son (Sir James) killed Sir Robert Balfour in a duel.

Sir James was permitted to return to visit his father; afterwards he petitioned to be permitted to live in England away from the scene of the fatal duel, and this was granted.

Magill of Oxenford was a relative of Sir James.

Sir James MacGill's ancestor, David MacGill, Lord of Sessions, and from 1582 to 1594. Lord Advocate, younger brother of Rankeillour, died March 12, 1594. Succeeded in the second generation by Sir James MacGill; raised to the Baronetcy in 1627, and in April, 1651, to the Peerage under the title of Viscount Oxford and Lord of Causeland.

He was succeeded by his son, Robert, who failed of "heirs male" and the title is now amongst the dormant Peerages of Scotland.

By Sir Thomas Burke-Ulster, King of Arms,
Dublin Castle

William Napier Magill of Lyttleton, County West Meath, Ireland.

Lineage only goes back to his grandfather, George Magill, who died in 1608.

MAGILL (or MacGill), Viscount of Oxenford, England, created April 19th, 1651.

Arms - Gu, three Martlets Ar.
Crest - A Phoenix in flames.
Motto - Sine Fine.

McGILL-Ballynester, Ireland.

Arms - The same with bordure.
Crest - The same.
Motto - The same.

According to the laws of Heraldry this McGill of Ballynester is a branch of the present House - Viscount McGill. R. OULAHAN.

MacGill-Rankeillour, Scotland.

Arms - Gu, three Martlets Ar.
Crest - A Martlet Ar.
Motto - In Domini Confido.

McGill-Ramgally, Scotland.

Arms - Three Martlets, with bordure.
Eng. V. - (Last color), Ar. or gold.

McGill - No residence given.

Arms-The same.
Bordure indented, gold Gu.


(It is claimed by Mr. Oulahan that Gill was originally McGill - that the signification of Mc and Mac is "Son" and the Gills have simply dropped the Mc).

He sends the following mentioned in Heraldry who have armorial bearings:

Gill-Of Devonshire.
Gill-Of same shire.
Gill-Of Anesley, County of Hertford, Eng.
Gill-Of Hertfordshire.
Gill or Gille-Of London.
Gill-Arms Sa. on a Bend, etc.
Gill-Arms Lozengy, Ar. and Vest.
Gill-The same as borne by Rev. J. Gill of Saphtofple, County Leicester, Eng.
Gill-Of Wysaidisbury House and Weovany Hall, County Buckingham.
Gill-Of Norton, Derby County, temp Elizabeth and of Car House, near Rotherdam; this family from the similarity of Arms appears to be descended from the Gells of Hopton.
Gill-Of the Oaks in Norton ( a branch of the preceding family.)

NOTE-All of the foregoing branches have various Arms, with Martlets or Martels predominating. R. O.

Gell-Of Hopton, County Derby, temp Edward III.

Gell-Of Westmorland, Arms granted (March, 1631).

Gell-Of Middleton, Arms granted 1731.

By Sir Bernard Burke.

Vol. I, Page 642.

Gill-Of Bickham, England.
Gill-Of Reginald, Butler Edgecombe, Esq., of Bickham, Buckland, Morachorum, Devon, J. P.
Arms - Erneonoris, an eagle displayed with two heads-Sa. on a Shield; indented Gu., a boar's head erased, between two crescents Aig.
Crest - A boar passant; Sa., resting its fore paw on an increscent or.
Motto - In te Domine spes nostra.

Page 567. VOL. 2.

MacGiolla-Anglicized MacGill and Gill.
(O'Hart might have added that William is also an anglicizing of Giolla, but this note of O'Hart's is not good to follow further, R O.)

NOTE-Now Richard, a question! If Giolla is William in English, would not MacGiolla be MacWilliam? By what rule of etomology can it be construed as MacGill?

The following were the surnames of the "adventurers" for lands in Ireland under the various Acts and Ordinances of subscription, commencing with the Act of 17, Charles I., Chapter 33, A. D. 1642, and ending in A. D. 1646, when all further subscriptions ceased.


NOTE - This is very probably one of the Gills, settled in the North nearly forty years before. R. O.

Fairbanks Crests.

M'Gill or MacGill-England and Ireland.
Crest - A phoenix in flames. Plate 44, Rest 8.

Crest - A Martlet Ar.
Motto - In Domino Confido.

Crest - A terrestrial globe.

Crest - A salamander in flames-ppr. Plate 20, Crest 15.

Ireland. James I.

A. D. 1608-1610. Preface XIV.

"The McGills of the Glens" (i, e., in County Antrim. R. O.)

Preface XIII.

"The ancient followers of the country are the * * Missets; the McY-Gills (and McGills), the McAwnles and (the McAuleys), etc.

Wardens in Several Provinces.


P. P. 511-12. "Eighteen maimed soldiers" (Pensioners, R. O.)-Bryan O'Dollano, Thomas O'Mullichane, William Birte and * M* Bryan Gill, at three shillings each weekly."

NOTE-Here are the McGills and the McAuleys together in Antrim, and in Early Irish Settlers the McGills and McAuleys are found together in Virginia (R. O.)

NOTE 2-In the Plantation of Ulster, McAuley is called "Alias Stewart," no doubt a branch of the Scotch Stuarts.

Treasury Department,
Third Auditor's Office,

Washington, D. C., March 13, 1891.

Governor McGill: I would not address you directly, but I have just learned from Mr. Rose, Acting Chief in Mr. Moore's absence, that your friend has a relative dangerously ill, and I do not wish to trouble him, except to address this note in his care.

Pray accept nothing as absolutely certain in the historical notes I send you, except a few of which there can be no doubt.

I want to take another day's leave at the Capital Library and go over Burke's Peerage and Baronetage and some other works and I shall let you or Mr. Moore know the result.

Viscount McGill was not of English descent, as you know, but of pure Celtic. He could not have settled at Oxenford-Ousenford (from a ford on the River Ouse) now Oxford, from Ireland, as he could not-you are doubtless aware-have gotten lands, or a title in England in those troublous times.

So you may, I suggest, accept it as a fact, that he is of Scotch Celtic descent.

See the Arms, etc., of the Ballynester McGill, and they prove this fact; that he is of the same "House" as the Viscount.

I have been trying to locate Ballynester, but have failed up to this. It was doubtless the name of a townland where he resided.

If I can serve you further I shall be glad.

Very respectfully,


When the skillful hunter starts out for bear he gives the hounds the scent and they will follow no other trail.

Our esteemed friend, "the Master of the Pack," honestly believed that he would find the Governor's ancestors among the Old Irish Catholics, but the trail was too old and could not be traced. Not since A. D. 1520, when Luther was disfrocked, has any of our immediate family been identified with Catholicism ; they were faithful followers of John Knox. Before 1520 all were Catholics.

Mr. Oulahan's "Scouts" missing the trail, ran into a covey of Gills, Gillos (Gells and Giollas), and the birds confused the chase. The trail was lost, obliterated by the abrasions of time and the tread of passing generations.

Any "unprejudiced mind" following the intricate mazes through which we have been led will easily see their dubious trend, but it is no fault of Mr. Oulahan's that he failed to make good his first impressions, he did his best. His last expiring effort is as follows :

Case of Ireland Stated - Sherlock.
Plantation of Ulster, County of Fermanagh.

Pynnas Survey, A. D. 1619.

Page 98. No. 6. The Precinct of Mackeroboy allotted to Scotch undertakers.

No. 3. Drumah-1,000 acres. Attainted proprietors-The Macguires; original patentees, 3. James Gill; parties in possession A. D. 16 19. 3 John Archdale.

NOTE-Sherlock says that various changes were made by the original patentees, in a short time after getting their grants. Some sold out, and others exchanged for an equivalent in some other Northern County.

Pynnas, who visited Ulster in 1619, gives no grants in County Antrim, and it would seem that James Gill may have removed there, as we see that John Archdale was in possession of Drumagh 1000, in A. D. 1619, but I would not accept this as a fact until I see further. The Anglo-Irish scribes were a careless and bungling lot of spellers and wrote MacGill and Gill just as they wrote "Devlin" in another place for "Dublin."


U. S. Treasury Department,
March 2I, 1891.

Dear Sir: Kindly hand the enclosed sheet to the Governor. I think he will find sufficient proof in the notes to establish one fact at least, that his Irish ancestor was from Scotland, and that he is therefore of the Scotch-Irish (Celtic) descent.

There is no McGill amongst the ancient Irish Clans, which helps to confirm my conclusions as above.

It seems strange that the County Antrim is not mentioned in the confiscations in Ulster-only the other six counties of the North, and I think the reason was that before 1603, McDonnell of the Hebrides descended on the Antrim coast with a strong force and held Antrim as "sword-ground," but the immediate ancestors of Patrick McGill may have settled under the McDonnells in Antrim.

Sincerely yours,


J. K. Moore, Esq.

It has been a fad with some of our people to boast of their Irish descent. It is truly a noble line and the Sons of the Emerald Isle have just cause to be proud of their ancient lineage. The Irish-Celt and the Scotch-Celt stand side by side and are brothers of the same blood. It makes not one bit of difference on which side we are aligned, but it is natural to wish to know the exact truth; that is, whether we are Dominiques or Shanghais, so we can regulate our pompous tread and lusty crow accordingly and give out no false notes.

Mr. Richard Oulahan has rendered us an important service in this respect. His ultimatum that "there are no M’Gills in the ancient Irish Clans," settles the question "once for all." There were very ancient Clans of M’Gills in Scotland and they were prominent in affairs.

The ancient House of Rankeillour sent its branches to England and through England to Ireland at Ballynester and elsewhere, while from Rankeillour also came Ramgally and other Clans who peopled Galloway and furnished the population for the Colonizing of Ulster under James I. After centuries of propagation among the Caledonian Hills our forbears removed to Ulster where they dwelt for 162 years, then came to America where we have lived 138 years. Just 300 years since the old McGills left the shade of Ben Nevis to wash their feet in Belfast Bay.

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