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Origins Available: Irish, Scottish


The McDowell family name comes from the personal name Dougal. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Dhughaill and literally means "son of Dougal." The personal name Dougal, meaning "dark stranger."

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The surname McDowell was first found in Galloway (Gaelic: Gall-ghaidhealaibh), an area of southwestern Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Dumfries and Galloway, that formerly consisted of the counties of Wigtown (West Galloway) and Kirkcudbright (East Galloway), where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

The translation of Gaelic names in the Middle Ages was not a task undertaken with great care. Records from that era show an enormous number of spelling variations, even in names referring to the same person. Over the years McDowell has appeared as MacDowall, MacDowell, MacDugald, MacDill, Dowall, Dowler and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McDowell research. Another 386 words (28 lines of text) covering the years 1268, 1310, 1359, and 1363 are included under the topic Early McDowell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Another 47 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McDowell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Some of the McDowell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 106 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Many of the ancestors of Dalriadan families who arrived in North America still live in communities along the east coast of Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence many of the original settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the ancestors of many Scots began recovering their collective national heritage through Clan societies, highland games, and other patriotic events. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name McDowell or a variant listed above:

McDowell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Ephraim McDowell, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1729-1735
  • Ephrahim McDowell, who landed in Virginia in 1739
  • Jane McDowell, who landed in Virginia in 1739
  • Margaret McDowell, who landed in Virginia in 1739
  • Martha McDowell, who arrived in Virginia in 1739
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McDowell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Hugh McDowell, aged 50, landed in Louisiana in 1812
  • Thomas McDowell, aged 40, arrived in South Carolina in 1812
  • Andrew McDowell, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1813
  • Joseph McDowell, who arrived in New York in 1819
  • Samuel Douglas McDowell, who arrived in South Carolina in 1824
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McDowell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • David McDowell, who landed in Canada in 1840
  • Hiram McDowell, who arrived in Canada in 1840

McDowell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Fanny McDowell, aged 32, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Rodney"
  • Agnes McDowell, aged 20, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Flora"
  • Mary McDowell, aged 29, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Flora"
  • Annabella McDowell, aged 22, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "North"

McDowell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • John McDowell landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • John McDowell arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1863
  • James McDowell arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Pegasus" in 1865
  • Richard McDowell, aged 22, a farm labourer, arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Siberia" in 1870
  • Martha J. McDowell, aged 25, arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Siberia" in 1870
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  • Michael McEachern McDowell (1950-1999), American two-time Hugo Award nominated novelist and screenwriter
  • Irvin McDowell (1818-1885), American Major General, best known for his defeat in the First Battle of Bull Run
  • Brigadier-General Rex McKinley McDowell (1893-1984), American Assistant Director Office of the Surgeon General US Army (1939-1945)
  • Paul L. McDowell (1905-1962), American Olympic bronze medalist rower at the 1928 Summer Olympics
  • Arthur V. McDowell, American politician, Mayor of Middletown, Connecticut, 1918-19
  • Arthur G. McDowell (d. 1966), American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Illinois at-large, 1934; Candidate for U.S. Senator from Illinois, 1936; Candidate for Governor of Illinois, 1940
  • Alexander McDowell (1845-1913), American Republican politician, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania at-large, 1893-95; Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1904
  • Abram I. McDowell, American politician, Mayor of Columbus, Ohio, 1842
  • Augustus G. McDowell, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from North Carolina, 2008
  • Bert McDowell, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Texas, 1932
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McDowell Historic Events



Halifax Explosion

  • Miss Eileen  McDowell (1911-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

HMS Hood

  • Mr. Albert McDowell (b. 1922), English Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking
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  • Historic Families of Kentucky by Thomas Marshall Green.
  • McDowells in American by Dorothy Kelly MacDowell.
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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: Vincere vel mori
Motto Translation: Victory

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Citations



    Other References

    1. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
    2. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
    3. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
    4. 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).
    5. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    7. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
    8. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    9. 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.
    10. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
    11. ...

    The McDowell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McDowell 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 25 July 2016 at 10:57.

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