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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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

The clans of the ancient Scottish Pictish tribe were the ancestors of the first person to use the name Goan. It was name for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith.

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Scribes in the Middle Ages did not have access to a set of spelling rules. They spelled according to sound, the result was a great number of spelling variations. In various documents, Goan has been spelled 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 Goan research. Another 315 words(22 lines of text) covering the years 1396, 1613, 1698 and 1725 are included under the topic Early Goan 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 Goan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Goan 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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The cruelties suffered under the new government forced many to leave their ancient homeland for the freedom of the North American colonies. Those who arrived safely found land, freedom, and opportunity for the taking. These hardy settlers gave their strength and perseverance to the young nations that would become the United States and Canada. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the name Goan:

Goan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • John Goan, who arrived in Maryland in 1849
  • John B Goan, who arrived in St Clair County, Illinois in 1872

Goan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Emily Goan arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Montrose" in 1883

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  1. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  2. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  3. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  4. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  5. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  6. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  9. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
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This page was last modified on 19 April 2015 at 22:51.

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