The meaning of the name “MacMull” is unknown, but it may be connected to some kind of Scottish family history. The earliest record of the surname in Scotland is dated to 1566, and even then it was spelled “MacMull.” MacMulls have lived near Gretna Green in southern Scotland since at least 1749.
In the United States, the surname was first recorded as Mull in Maryland and Virginia around 1770, where they had arrived from somewhere else in England or Ireland. By 1800 they were found throughout the country. They soon began spelling their name as MacMull by 1814 and had established themselves in South Carolina by 1819. In the 1860 United States Federal Census, only one or two people per state were listed as having this surname. This number has grown to several thousand today. MacMulls have been known to have lived in Mendocino and Colusa counties in California, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Colorado.
The origins of the name are unknown, with many theories having developed over time:
MacMull clan tartan is the same as that of Clan Donald.
The name MacMull or MacMool is also an Anglicization of the Irish surname “Mac Amhalghaidh”, meaning “son of Amhalghadh”. The family was located near Lough Swilly in County Donegal, Ireland.
In the early 17th century, members of the MacMull clan moved from Donegal to Argyll, Scotland. Many lived with Clan MacDonald at Dunaverty Castle on the southern coast of Kintyre, where they were connected to the Clan MacDonalds of Dunnyveg in northern Ireland by marriage alliance. Among their number was Florence MacMull, who became famous for destroying the Spanish Armada. This member of the MacMull clan is referred to as a “Gaelic hero” in John Prebble’s book “The Rise Of The Common Man”.
During the 1745 Jacobite rising, some MacMulls took part in the Battle of Culloden in northern Scotland. The battle took place between Jacobites and British government forces on April 16, 1746 and ended with the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Many members of Clan Charles were killed, including his chief advisor Lord George Murray and his standard bearer Lord Kilmarnock.
Later, in the late 18th century, some MacMulls joined the Scottish Highland explorers centered in Fort William, Scotland in their expeditions to North America. It is known that they emigrated to Canada during this time.
During the American Civil War’s western campaigns (1861–1865), many MacMulls enlisted in the Union Army. One notable example was Midshipman Thomas MacMull of Pennsylvania’s Company B of the 11th Pennsylvania Reserves Infantry Regiment. He fought with distinction during seven major battles including Antietam and Chancellorsville before being mustered out of service on June 24, 1863.
Some emigrated to Canada and settled near Victoria B.C. In 1935, the Canadian government surveyed residents of this area who were of Scottish descent. Among the names drawn up for this project, John MacMull was listed as a native of Victoria and a resident of Victoria. Some McMulls are believed to have moved from Canada to California during the 1920s, and some were still living in these areas in 1910.
The O’Connell MacMullen Foundation was established in 1932 by John O’Connell (1901–1982) as a means of encouraging excellence in Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame. The Foundation is responsible for awarding annual fellowships to qualified distinguished Irish scholars, artists and writers whose work has made significant contributions to Irish Studies over many years.