Coven History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The clans of the Pictish people in ancient Scotland were the ancestors of the first people to use the name Coven. It was a name for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith. [1]

Early Origins of the Coven family

The surname Coven was 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.

Early History of the Coven family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Coven research. Another 158 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1396, 1613, 1698, 1725, 1631, 1683, 1631, 1658, 1661 and are included under the topic Early Coven History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Coven Spelling Variations

In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. Coven has appeared MacGowan, McGowan, MacGowin, McGowin, MacGowen, McGowen, Gow, Gowan, Gowen, Gowin, MacGavin, McGavin and many more.

Early Notables of the Coven family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was John Gow (c. 1698-1725), Scottish notorious pirate probably born in Wick, Caithness whose short career was immortalized by Charles Johnson in "A General History of the Pyrates." Thomas Gowan (1631-1683), was a writer on logic, "born at Caldermuir, Scotland...
Another 46 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Coven Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Coven family to Ireland

Some of the Coven family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 99 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Coven migration to the United States +

Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and Clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Coven:

Coven Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Patrick Coven, who arrived in Virginia in 1718 [2]


The Coven Motto +

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: Juncta arma decori
Motto Translation: Arms united to merit.


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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