This notable surname, with spellings of MacLean, Maclean, MacLaine, McLean, Mccleane, McLane, and many, many, more, is widely recorded in Scotland and Ireland. It is an Anglicized form of the Old Scots Gaelic "MacGille Eoin", son of the devotee of (St.) John, from "Mac", son of, "gille", literally translating as "(man) servant, attendant", but used here in the transferred sense of "devotee", and the saint's name "Eoin", the classic Gaelic form of "John", now widely replaced by "Iain". John derives ultimately from the Hebrew "Yochanan", Jehovah has favoured me (with a son). In Gaelic genealogical manuscripts, dated 1467, the name is spelt "Gilleain", and in the M'Vurich Manuscripts as "Giolla-eoin": the "l" is now all that remains of "gille". John and Neil, sons of Gilhon, were mentioned in the 1326 Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the date at which the surname was also first recorded (below). Further early recordings include: Nigel M'Gillon, custodian of the Castle of Scraburgh (1329), and Walter Malynne (Maclean), abbot of Glenluce, 1517 - 1545. The Macleans connection with Ireland began with their employment by the MacDonnels of Ulster as gallowglasses or mercenary soldiers in the 15th Century. In Ireland, the name was Anglicized as "MacGiolla Eain", or "MacGiolla Eoin". Notable bearers of the name were John Maclean, son of the laird of Dowart, who was ennobled by Queen Christina of Sweden in 1649, Sir John Maclean (1811 - 1895), archaeologist, and keeper of ordnance records in the Tower of London, 1855 - 1861, and Sir Donald McLean, 1820 - 1877, the first minister and statesman of New Zealand. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dofnald M'Gilhon, whose ship made a circuit of "le Mole" (Mull), which was dated 1327, in the "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", during the reign of King Robert 1 "Bruce" of Scotland, 1306 - 1329. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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