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

Where did the Scottish McCowan family come from? What is the Scottish McCowan family crest and coat of arms? When did the McCowan family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McCowan family history?

The ancient Scottish name McCowan was first used by the Strathclyde-Briton people of the Scottish/English Borderlands. The original bearer of the name lived in the Scottish-English border region. The McCowan family lived in Ayrshire.


The many spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names result from the fact that scribes in that era spelled words according to sound. Translation too, was an undeveloped science, and many names were altered into complete obscurity. Over the years McCowan has been spelled Cowan, Cowans, Cowen, Cowens, MacCowan, MacCowden and many more.

First found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCowan research. Another 185 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCowan History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early McCowan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the McCowan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 265 words(19 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


To escape the uncertainties and discrimination faced in Scotland, many decided to head out for North America. Once they arrived, many Scots fought with relish in the American War of Independence; some went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Many ancestors of these Scots have recovered their lost national heritage in the 20th century through Clan organizations and Scottish historical societies. Among the settlers to North America were:

McCowan Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Patrick McCowan, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1764

McCowan Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • John T McCowan, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1856
  • Agnes McCowan, aged 16, arrived in New York in 1864
  • J. G. McCowan, aged 32, who landed in America from Glasgow, in 1892
  • Grace McCowan, aged 5, who emigrated to the United States, in 1895

McCowan Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Rosa McCowan, aged 24, who settled in America from Georgetown, in 1904
  • Wm. McCowan, aged 34, who landed in America from Georgetown, in 1904
  • John McCowan, aged 47, who landed in America from Paisley, in 1906
  • Harry McCowan, aged 34, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1908
  • Patrick McCowan, aged 21, who settled in America from Ballina, Ireland, in 1909


  • Andrew McCowan, founder of McCowan's Ltd, a Scottish confectionery company specializing in toffee and fudge
  • John McCowan (1863-1900), Scottish physicist
  • Alexander McCowan (1853-1939), Ontario farmer and politician, eponym of McCowan Rd, Scarborough
  • Sir Anthony James Denys McCowan (1928-2003), British barrister and judge of the High Court of Justice and Court of Appeal
  • George McCowan (1927-1995), Canadian film and television director
  • Sir David McCowan (1860-1937), 1st Baronet of Dalwhat, Dumfries, senior partner in William Euing & Co, marine insurance brokers, and Honorary President of the Scottish Unionist Association
  • Sir David James Cargill McCowan (1897-1965), 2nd Baronet
  • Sir Hew Cargill McCowan (1930-1998), 3rd Baronet
  • Robert Herman "Bob" McCowan (1875-1941), Australian rugby union player
  • Sir David William Cargill McCowan (b. 1934), 4th Baronet


The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Sic itur in altum
Motto Translation: This is the way to heaven.


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  1. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  3. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  4. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  5. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  6. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  7. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  8. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  10. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The McCowan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McCowan Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 11 May 2014 at 23:03.

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