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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

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

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."


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.

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.


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.


Another 80 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McDowell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


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.


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

McDowell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Hugh McDowell, aged 50, landed in Louisiana in 1812
  • Thos 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

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


  • Charles T. McDowell (1921-2007), American academic and military officer
  • Ephraim McDowell (1771-1830), American physician
  • Johnny McDowell (1915-1952), American Indy 500 racecar driver
  • Paul L. McDowell (1905-1962), American Olympic bronze medalist rower at the 1928 Summer Olympics
  • Brigadier-General Rex McKinley McDowell (1893-1984), American Assistant Director Office of the Surgeon General US Army (1939-1945)
  • Irvin McDowell (1818-1885), American Major General, best known for his defeat in the First Battle of Bull Run
  • Michael McEachern McDowell (1950-1999), American two-time Hugo Award nominated novelist and screenwriter
  • Charles S. McDowell Jr. (1871-1943), Lieutenant Governor of Alabama from 1923-1927
  • Graeme McDowell (b. 1979), Irish professional PGA golfer, winner of the Masters Tournament (2012), the U.S. Open (2010), The Open Championship (2012) PGA Championship (2009) and many more
  • Malcolm McDowell (b. 1943), British two-time Golden Globe nominated actor



  • Historic Families of Kentucky by Thomas Marshall Green.
  • McDowells in American by Dorothy Kelly MacDowell.

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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  1. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  2. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  3. 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).
  4. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  5. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  6. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  7. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  8. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  9. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  10. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. 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 26 February 2015 at 16:02.

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