Manuscript Pedigrees

Manuscript Pedigrees of the McQuillans of the Route

According to a family tradition recorded in 1823 by Edward MacQuillan, some of the papers of the McQuillan chiefs survived as late as the 1700s, and included a pedigree “as long as the third chapter of Luke.” But this ancient family pedigree was among the legal papers lost in France about 1763 by Edward’s grandfather, Ephraim McQuillan, while putting forward a claim to the McQuillan legacy.

17th century McQuillan pedigrees
17th century McQuillan pedigrees in the manuscript of the Mac Fhirbhisigh Book of Genealogies, Irish National Library.

Fortunately, several other early pedigrees of the McQuillans still survive in collections compiled in the 1600s. These pedigrees all give quite similar accounts of the clan’s descent from its eponymous ancestor, Uighilin or Uidhilin, who apparently lived around the mid-1200s.

Some of these pedigrees continue the McQuillan ancestry back even further, but the names given in them very soon take on a mythical quality. Some show descents from legendary figures like King Arthur, or tie in to the stock Milesian pedigrees from Irish legend. A few go back to Noah and thus, implicitly, back through Noah’s biblical genealogy all the way to Adam.

Despite the legendary features of these pedigrees, it is quite possible that some names given in the generations just prior to Uighilin may provide clues to the clan’s origins prior to its first appearance in the annals and other historical sources.

The most notable surviving collection of McQuillan pedigrees is found in the Leabhar Genealach of Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh, compiled between 1645 and 1666. Mac Fhirbhisigh gives nine specific lines of McQuillan descent forward from Uidhilin. Since none go back further than Uidhilin, Mac Fhirbhisigh’s pedigrees give us no information about the earlier origin of the McQuillans, but the lineages recorded what was apparently still an active oral tradition in Mac Fhirbisigh’s day, and the details they do provide are likely to be reasonably accurate.

Mac Fhirbisigh also provides us with a list of the names of the successive chiefs of the clan and the number of years of each of their tenures. Since the Annals of Ulster and other Irish annals mention the deaths of some of these clan chiefs, Mac Fhirbhisigh’s list can, to a certain extent, be coordinated with historical dates. While not all of the names in the list of chiefs can be identified with certainty from the names in the pedigrees, a recent paper by one of the McQuillan Clan Association’s genealogists demonstrates that by comparing the MacFhirbhisigh pedigrees and list of chiefs with material in the Irish annals, Tudor and Elizabethan state papers and other historical sources, a plausible pedigree of the McQuillan chiefly line between about 1300 and 1600 can be reconstructed.

The McQuillan Pedigrees in Mac Fhirbisigh

The following are the McQuillan pedigrees given by Mac Fhirbisigh, as transcribed by O’ Muraille:

831.9: Cland Uidhilin (no Uighilin): Rudhraighe Og m. Rudhraighe m. Rudraighe m. Baltuir m. Cormaic m. Sinchin Moir m. Alasdair m. Slemne Baile Atha Buidhe m. Uilliam Ruaidh m. Slemne m. Edaigh m. Slemhna catha na Craoibhe m. Uidilin.

831.10: Baltair m. Risderd m. Gearoid m. Baltair mc Cormaic m. Sincin Moir.

831.11: Emhear Og maior m. Emhear m. Rudraighe m. Uigi m. Teapoid mc Uig m. Gearoid mc Baltair m. Cormaic mc Sincin Mhoir.

831.12: Teapoid m. Gearoid m. Sincin m. Cormaic m. Baltair m. Cormaic m. Sincin Mhoir.

831.13: Teboid Dubh m. Sinchin m. Teapoid m. Gearoid m. Risderd m. Sincin Mhoir.

831.14: Risdeard Buidhe m. Emhir m. Fhir Dhoirche m. Alasdair m. Colla m. Sincin Mhoir.

831.15: Seaan Og m. Sincin m. Risderd m. Ruaidrigh m. Seaain s. Alasdair na fFionog.

831.16: Clann Uatag sunna: Ruaidhri Og m. Rudhraige m. Roibhilin m. Domnuill m. Uatag m. Slemne Baile Atha Buidhe.

831.17: Alasdair m. Rudraighe m. Baltair Bhuidhe m. Risderd m. Sincin m. Roiberd m. Alasdair m. Slemne.

Mac Fhiribisigh, “Cland Uidhilin”, as transcribed by Nollaig O Muraille.