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About the study

The McIlwaine One Name Study began in the summer of 2014.  Like most One Name Studies it evolved from my initial research of the family and origins of my Grandmother Elizabeth Greer McIlwaine 1911-1984.  In the space of a year I had accumulated a volume of names, dates, records etc. some of which were relevant to my ancestors and some of which were not.  I also discovered that the McIlwaine name had spread across the world especially to Canada, America and to Australia and indeed I was able to connect with some descendants of my Great Great Grandparents William Henry McIlwaine and Sarah Murray. The McIlwaine name was registered as a One Name Study on the 1st February 2016.

Variant names

McIlwain, McElwaine, McElwain, McIlvain, McIlveen, McElveen

Name origin

The name is of Gaelic, Scottish origin from the Gaelic, Mac Gille Bheathain", meaning "son (mac) of the servant of (St.) Beathan". The name has been Anglicized into McIlwaine, McIlwain, McElwaine. McIlvain, McIlvane, McElvain, McElvaine, McLevaine, McIlveen and McIlvean. Old records spell it in a variety of ways for instance  MacYlevene, MacGilwynn, Macilmeyne, Macelwain, Makgilvane and many others.

The earliest occurrence of the name is given as Thomas Makgilvane, a tenant under Douglas in the Barony of Buittle in 1376 as stated by George F. Black in his Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning and History.  

Gilbert Macilmeyne of Grimet is recorded in the Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland in 1503 as stated by George F. Black in his Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning and History. 

The McIlvaines carried the title of Lairds of Grimet and the family seats were Thomaston and Attyquyne in Ayrshire.


History of the name

Alan Makilvene obtained a charter from James V on October 16 1529 for the lands of Grimett and Attyquyne in Ayrshire as chronicled in the Protocol book of Gavin Ros, a Notary of County Ayr for the years 1512-1532.

In Ayrshire, Scotland Patrick McIlvane was Laird of Grimet from 1547 to 1613. 

Quintan McIlvaine of Grimet was awarded the Coat of Arms on 1 July 1672.

Charles Howard McIlwain, 1871 - 1968 won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1924. Born in Pennsylvania he studied at Princetown and Harvard Universities.

Reverend William McIlwaine 1807 - 1880, was minister of St George's Church, Belfast.

Reverend Richard McIlwaine 1834 -1913 was born in Petersburg, Virginia.  He was the son of Archibald Graham McIlwaine an industrialist and financier born in Londonderry, Ireland and Martha Dunn.  He was a Clergyman and the President of Hampden Sidney College, Virgina and Secretary of Home and Foreign Missions of the Southern Presbyterian Church in America.



This study is in its earliest stages and I am currently analysing the data from the Census of Ireland of 1901 and of 1911 and I am interested to see how the name is distributed throughout the island of Ireland.  I am also collecting data from all available Birth Marriage and Death sources firstly within Ireland and then the rest of the British Isles. Once this is complete I hope to undertake some family reconstructions.

I am also hoping to look at how the name spread from Scotland and Ireland by studying emigration patterns from the British Isles especially to Canada, America and Australia.

I have collected the data for McIlwaine's and variants from the British Commonwealth who took part in World War One and I am currently analysing this to establish their geogrpahical origins and then I will attempt some family reconstructions to link them back to their birth families.  Once this is completed I should have a good idea of McIlwaine participation in the first World War before moving on to look at McIlwaines from the US who served in WW1.