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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish Magowan family come from? When did the Magowan family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Magowan family history?

Magowan was a name for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith.

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During the Middle Ages, there was no basic set of rules and scribes wrote according to sound. The correct spelling of Scottish names were further compromised after many haphazard translations from Gaelic to English and back. Spelling variations of the name Magowan include MacGowan, McGowan, MacGowin, McGowin, MacGowen, McGowen, Gow, Gowan, Gowen, Gowin, MacGavin, McGavin and many more.

First found in Inverness-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Nis) divided between the present day Scottish Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles, and consisting of a large northern mainland area and various island areas off the west coast, the shire was anciently both a Pictish and Norwegian stronghold, where the name is from the Gaelic 'Govha' meaning 'a blacksmith' and as such could have been a name that applied to people throughout Scotland. However, as in the case of clans like the Fletchers or Clarks, eventually the name became attributed to a specific area or region. As such, The Clan was also located in Nithsfield in the 12th century, and recorded as a Border Clan. To the west in Elgin and Galloway they were known as the MacGavins.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Magowan research. Another 315 words(22 lines of text) covering the years 1396, 1613, 1698 and 1725 are included under the topic Early Magowan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 53 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Magowan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Magowan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 187 words(13 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Scots left their country by the thousands to travel to Australia and North America. Desperate for freedom and an opportunity to fend for themselves, many paid huge fees and suffered under terrible conditions on long voyages. Still, for those who made the trip, freedom and opportunity awaited. In North America, many fought their old English oppressors in the American War of Independence. In recent years, Scottish heritage has been an increasingly important topic, as Clan societies and other organizations have renewed people's interest in their history. An examination of passenger and immigration lists shows many early settlers bearing the name of Magowan:

Magowan Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Walter Magowan, who landed in Virginia in 1768

Magowan Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Magowan, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1803-1827
  • Saml Magowan, aged 36, arrived in America in 1822
  • John Magowan, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1831

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  • Peter A. Magowan (b. 1942), American former managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants Major League Baseball team
  • John MaGowan (b. 1941), Northern Irish darts player
  • Katie Victoria "Kate" Magowan (b. 1975), English actress
  • Ken Magowan (b. 1981), Canadian professional ice hockey player
  • Peter Magowan (1762-1810), English-born, Canadian lawyer and politician in Prince Edward Island
  • Sir John Hall Magowan KBE, CMG, LLD (d. 1951), British diplomat, British Ambassador to Venezuela from 1948 to 1951


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  1. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  2. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  3. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  4. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  8. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  10. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
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This page was last modified on 6 December 2012 at 07:50.

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