Donald McQuilkan - Scotland


McQuilkan Scottish Origin

Isabella Ferns father Donald McQuilkan of Southland, New Zealand came from the Kintyre and Knapdale areas of Argyleshire on Scotland's west coast. The McQuilkan name is readily found on Tarbert cemetery headstones. [Wikipedia - Argyll] [Wikipedia - Tarbert]

Argyll 01 Scottish Western Isles

 The red marker is at Tarbert. Knapdale is the region to the north of Tarbert, Kintyre is to the south.
The Mull of Kintyre is the south-westernmost tip of Kintyre.

 Argyll 02 Scotland Tarbet region

The name Tarbert describes a narrow isthmus or boat portage site
between two bodies of water. Old Irish: 'to carry across'

The McQuilkan name is found readily at cemeteries at Carse (north-west bank of the loch) and in Tarbert. McQuilkan birth and death places tend to be associated with Kintyre to the south of Tarbert.

McQuilkan Name (a sept of the Macdonald clan)

'There are many spelling variations for the Clan MacDonald surname. Mac and Mc are interchangeable. Included are families (known as Septs) with different surnames from the original Clan name.' and 'The Clan dominated all of the Isles and large areas of Western Scotland, for centuries ...' []

 In 2001 Ray McQuilkin (sic) posted thoughts on the 'genforum' bulletin board regarding the McQuilkan name. He said:

"This is a matter we must look into more closley,for we now have Wilkinson as the primary name instead of McQuilkin.There was no Wilkinson's in Kintyre until around the 1800's.You first had McCulkyn, 1632, McCuilcean until about 1680. In gaelic the last and the first is pronounced Mc-Kool-Lk-in not Mc-Ul-Kin.Thanks for any thoughts or comments and lets see what we have out there among us. Ray".


McQuilkan Line, Argleshire

There are many  Donald McQuilkan names in this family tree. For some clarification each Donald will be noted with their birth year or some other identification. So the father of Isabella Ferns (was McQuilkan) was a Shepherd of Southland who will be noted as Donald (1834) McQuilkan.

The grandparents of Donald (1834) were Duncan McQuilkan who married Elizabeth Crawford. They had at least one son, Donald-(1790) who was born in Argyleshire about 1790 and who was Donald-(1834)'s father.

The parents of Donald-(1834) were Donald-(1790) McQuilkan and Catherine Stevenson (some records show Stivenson), married 29 June 1817 in Kilcalmonell and Killberry, Argyle. They had the following children:

  • John born before abt 1816, Argyle
  • Duncan born 10 March 1817 in Achevleuh, Argyle
  • Mary born 4 October 1818 in Saddell and Skipness.
  • Isabel born 23 April 1823 in Saddell and Skipness.
  • Betsy born 21 August 1824
  • Katherine born 3 September 1826
  • Angus born 23 January 1830
  • Archibald born 19 August 1832
  • Donald born 7 June 1834
  • James born 25 February 1837 (twin)
  • Janet born 25 February 1837(twin)
  • Alexander born abt 1841, Campbeltown, Argyle

Place Names

The Kintyre places given above are mostly parish names, so Kilcalmonell and Killberry around Tarbert, Saddell and Skipness on the east coast, and Campbelltown down near the bottom of the peninsula. Here is an Argle parish map for reference - see Parishes 22, 23 and 25.

Argyll parishes


 The name 'Achevleuh' appears to be a farm name. With a slight change in spelling from that in a 2023 Google Maps reference, the farm has been located in Parish 23, almost directly east of the lowest point of Parish 22. It is the top red marker at Achavalich Cottage, Clachan village below. Clachan also shows at the bottom edge of the Tarbert map above.

GoogleMaps 2023 Balinakill


 The names of Donald-(1834) and Alexander (about 1841) form a major part of the McQuilkan family history in New Zealand.

 A Half Brother?

There are few further references to Donald-(1834) and Alexandra in Scotland. However, my mother Tui Johnson (was Ferns) once made a comment which I noted down. It was 'Did he (Donald-1834) leave a son in Scotland, a half-brother to Isabella?'. Lets explore this thought further.

 A Scottish Mariage

Thnks to the 2009 research of Howard Sutherland and his daughter Liz (both of Scotland), they undertook detailed research of the Kintyre McQuilkan families. From them we learn that Donald-(1834) did indeed marry and have a child in Scotland before coming out to New Zealand. Here are their details of that marriage.

'Donald MCQUILKAN was born 7 June 1834. He married firstly Helen McLellan ARDPATRICK who was born in 1837 and died on 7 February 1867. They had one child, Duncan born 20 February 1866. Donald then emigrated to New Zealand and married Catherine Robertson WALLACE on 10 November 1879 in New Zealand.'

The family story of Donald-(1834) and Alexander McQuilkan continues in the New Zealand section of these pages.