The MacQuillans are an Irish sept, descended from a branch of the de Mandevilles, a Cambro-Norman who settled Ulster during the Anglo-Norman invasions under the de Courcys in the late 12th century. Their home country was in the areas of Antrim known as the Route and the Glens, with their seat at the castle of Dunluce. They became gaelicized very early, forming a sept on the native model. As descendants of Hugh de Mandeville, they assumed the Gaelic name Mac Uighilin (Mac Hugelin, a diminutive of Hugh), whence MacQuillan. From earliest times the name has been confused with MacWilliam. Their chief was Lord of the Route of Antrim (“The MacQuillan of the Route”), the route referred to apparently being the usual route between Scotland and Ireland.
Throughout the 14th century the de Mandevilles were hereditary High Constables of Ulster. However, in the words of a contemporary, “they were as Irish as the worst.” In this period, rebellion and disloyalty marked the lesser Normans such as the Mandevilles who resented the great Earls over them and wanted to be the supreme captains of their nations.
By the end of Edward II’s reign (1327), almost half the colonized land colonized by the English in Ireland belonged to absentee landlords. The resident Anglo- Irish nobility accused the absentees of draining the land ‘s wealth instead of investing it in the defense of their holdings, their derelict castles and unmanned frontiers encouraging the Irish to encroach and creating military problems for the Anglo-Irish. The Scottish war between Robert the Bruce and England spilled into Ireland. Roger Mortimer was responsible to the king for the organizing of the Anglo-Irish resistance to Bruce. Mortimer greatly expanded the grants to the Anglo-Irish nobility. When Mortimer fell from grace in England, all of his grants were resumed. De Burgh ignited a resumption of the hostilities between the de Burghs and the FitzGeralds. In 1315 the Mandevilles joined the Irish King Edward Bruce in an abortive attempt to unite the Irish and Scots against the English. Henry de Mandeville, seneschal of Ulster, was accused of treason and imprisoned in Dublin. In 1331 Henry de Mandeville was appointed Seneschal of Ulster by his cousin John de Burgh, the Red Earl of Ulster, who was father-in-law of the Scottish King Robert Bruce. This appointment was a delegation of the de Burgh’s English authority over the native Irish kings. However, the Mandevilles, already in the process of going native, murdered William de Burgh the young Earl of Ulster in 1333 at the Ford of Carrickfergus as a result of a family feud. For the rest of the 14th century, messages sent from the Anglo-Irish parliament complain of decaying defenses and incompetent administration by absentee landlords, and the prophecy of reconquest of the colony by Irish chiefs and rebellion by the “degenerate” or gaelicized English.
Their predominant position was consolidated by Sincin Mòr MacQuillan, who ruled as Chief from 1390 to 1449. During the 15th century the MacQuillan chiefs were allies of the O’Neills who were the royal family of Ulster and who vigorously opposed English incursions into the area. As allies of the O’Neills, the MacQuillan chiefs were incorporated into Irish polity by means of an honorary, though transparently bogus, O’Neill pedigree. For diplomatic purposes, the MacQuillans were regarded as descendants of Fiachra, youngest son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the ancestor of the O’Neills. In this connection, the MacQuillan chiefs were accorded the status of Princes of Dal Riada.
In 1541 their chief Rory Og MacQuillan declared that no “captain of his race” had ever died in his bed. By then, Anglo-Scottish confiscation of native lands in Ulster was beginning and the MacQuillan power was declining. The sept met with major defeats at the hands of the MacDonnells and many of them dispersed. In 1550 James MacDonnell established himself in the Glens, where the MacQuillans had ruled since 1400. In 1563 the MacQuillans suffered a major defeat by the MacDonnells at the Battle of Ora. The MacQuillans were defeated again in 1580 by Sorley Boy MacDonnell. In 1586 the English confiscated the lands of Edward MacQuillan (1503-1605), the last Lord of Dunluce, and granted them to Sorley Boy MacDonnell. In 1603 the English government began the Plantation of Ulster, a plan to settle Ulster with English and Scots who were to receive grants of confiscated Irish lands. Sir Randall MacDonnell, son of Sorley Boy, received a re-grant of MacQuillan lands and was created Earl of Antrim.
The last Lord of the Route, another Rory Og MacQuillan (died 1634), recovered a part of the confiscated lands but was the last to bear the title Lord of the Route. In the late 17th century, a Capt. Rory MacQuillan was an officer in O’Neill’s infantry in King James II’s Irish army.
Teague Quillen (c1635-aft 1661) immigrated from Ireland to Baltimore in 1635. One line of his descendants migrated into western Pennsylvania. From that line, James Quillen moved west to Iowa and Nebraska about 1884.
1. Teague Quillen (c1615-?), came to Virginia in 1635.
2. Daniel Quillen (c1638-?). He married Lydia (c1640-?).
3. Thomas Quillen (1665-bef 1771). He married Sarah Morris (c1668-?).
4. Thomas Quillen (1691-c1742). He married Mary (?) (c1693-aft 1742).
5. Benjamin Quillen (c1712-?), a farmer in Worcester County, Maryland. He married Esther (?) (c1714-?).
6. Nathaniel Quillen (c1740-1838), a farmer near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He married Mary (?) (c1783-1845).
7. James M. Quillen (1820-1900), a farmer in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He married Mary Jane (?) (c1817-bef 1880).
8. James Robert Quillen (1853-1940), a carpenter in Homer, Nebraska. He had a relationship with Clara Etta Weight (1869-1940).
9. Myrtle Louese Quillen (1885-1956). She married George Rufus Redman Horn (1876-1969), a railroad fireman.
Coat of Arms
MacQuillan of the Route. Gules a wolf rampant Argent a chief Or. Crest: a demi-dragon Azure.