The name is Gaelic in origin,
deriving from "MacGille Fhaolain""son of the servant of St. Filan". St.
Filan was a missionary of the old Celtic church,
and there is a village in Perthshire named after
him. The name Filan itself is derived from the
Celtic "faelchu", meaning
"wolf". The Maclellans were numerous in
Galloway and gave their name to Balmaclellan in
Stewartry. Duncan Mac Lellan appears in a charter
of Alexander II in 1217. Mac Lellan of Bombie was
among the close followers of Sir William Wallace
when he left Kirkcudbright for France after the
defeat at Falkirk in 1293. In the early fifteenth
century it is said there were no fewer than
fourteen knights of the name Mac Lellan in
Galloway. Sir Patrick Mac Lellan of Bombie
forfeited his lands for marauding through the
lands of the Douglases, the Lords of Galloway.
James II restored the lands when Sir
s son, Sir William, captured the
leader of a band of gypsies who were terrorising
the district and carried the head of the brigand
to the king on the point of his sword. This is
one explanation advanced for the origins of the
crest of this family, although moors'
are often considered to be an allusion to the
Crusades. In 1452, eighth Earl of Douglas,
captured Sir Patrick Mac Lellan and held him in
Threave Castle for refusing to join a conspiracy
against the king. Sir Patrick'
s uncle, who
held high royal office, obtained letters ordering
the release of Douglas'
s prisoner but when
Douglas was presented with the royal warrant he
promptly had Sir Patrick murdered.
Sir William Mac Lellan of
Bombie was knighted by James IV. He followed his
king on the ill-fated invasion of England which
ended at Flodden field in 1513. His
great-grandson, Sir Robert, was a courtier both
to James IV and Charles I, and in 1633 was raised
to the peerage as Lord Kirkcudbright. The third
Lord incurred enormous debts for the king'
cause during the civil war and completely ruined
the estates. The title passed from cousin to
brother to cousin, with very few direct male
heirs, At the beginning of the eighteenth century
there were two claimants to the title. The
dispute was finally settled by the House of Lords
in 1761 but the title again became dormant in
1832 when the ninth Lord died in Bruges.