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Surname MacClain - Meaning and Origin

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MacClain: What does the surname MacClain mean?

MacClain is a Scottish and Irish surname that is derived from the Gaelic name "Mac Gille Eathain" which means "son of the servant of Saint John." The "Mac" in the name means "son of" reflecting the patriarchal tendency of past societies, while "Gille Eathain" translates to "the servant of Saint John." This name may have been given to those who served in a religious capacity, or perhaps in a monastery dedicated to Saint John. Characteristically, surnames that include the term "Mac" are generally of Celtic origin, and many of these names have religious connotations. Therefore, the last name MacClain traditionally symbolizes a historical lineage of serving others with a deep connection to Christian faith. It's worth mentioning that variations of this surname can be found as Maclean, McLean, and McClain due to different phonetic translations over time.

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MacClain: Where does the name MacClain come from?

The surname MacClain originates from Scotland, specifically from the Western Isles region. It is an anglicized form of the Gaelic "Mac Gille Eathain" which means "son of the servant of St. John". The MacClain family was a branch of the larger and powerful Clan MacDonald, the Lords of the Isles in the Middle Ages. In the aftermath of the failed Jacobite uprising of 1745, many Scots emigrated overseas, particularly to North America, spreading the name MacClain.

Today, the name can be found in several variants including Maclean, MacLean, MacLaine, McClain, and others. These variants can make it difficult to track the precise global distribution of the name. However, it is known that it is common throughout the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Where it is precisely most common can be hard to determine due to its dispersion and variant spellings, but there is a significant concentration of people bearing the name in the United States, and some specific areas of the UK are likely to have a high incidence of the name as well.

Variations of the surname MacClain

The surname MacClain has various spellings and synonymous forms due to phonetic translations, regional dialects, and anglicization over time. These variations include McClain, McLain, MacLain, McLane, McLaine and McClaine, which all come from the original Gaelic "Mac Gille Eathain", meaning the son of the servant of St. John. This suggests that the ancestors likely had a strong connection to the church.

Some more variations are McLean, MacLean, Maclean, Macleanes, Macleans, McLeans, Maclane, Macklane, McCleane, McClean, Macklean, MacKlain, McKliane, Maclaine, McLaien, MacGhille Eathain.

These spellings are common in regions of Scotland, particularly the Western Isles and Mull. The surname historically belonged to a powerful Scottish clan known as Clan MacLean. The variations can be attributed to historical migrations, occupations, or as identifiers of originating from a specific family branch. Remember, there may not be a direct relation among individuals with different spelling of the surname as it could have been adapted independently in different regions.

Further, there may be surnames that sound very similar but whose origins are unrelated to the MacClain lineage.

Famous people with the name MacClain

  • Ryan MacClain: Actor known for his roles in films such as The Last Witch Hunter and Terminator Genisys.
  • Peter MacClain: American visual artist based in Brooklyn.
  • Christine MacClain: American actress, producer, and voice actress.
  • Trevor MacClain: Professional baseball player in the Japanese leagues.
  • Michael MacClain: Professional hockey player from Canada.
  • John MacClain: British businessman and philanthropist.
  • Chris MacClain: Scottish musician, songwriter, and record producer.
  • David MacClain: American film composer.
  • William MacClain: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times writer.
  • William MacClain Jr.: Professional baseball player in the American sports leagues.

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