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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish


Gow was first used as a surname among the descendants of the ancient Scottish people known as the Picts. It was a name for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith.

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Before the first dictionaries appeared in the last few hundred years, scribes spelled according to sound. spelling variations are common among Scottish names. Gow 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 Gow research. Another 315 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1396, 1613, 1698 and 1725 are included under the topic Early Gow 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 Gow Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Gow 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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In those unstable times, many had no choice but to leave their beloved homelands. Sickness and poverty hounded travelers to North America, but those who made it were welcomed with land and opportunity. These settlers gave the young nations of Canada and the United States a strong backbone as they stood up for their beliefs as United Empire Loyalists and in the American War of Independence. In this century, the ancestors of these brave Scots have begun to recover their illustrious heritage through Clan societies and other heritage organizations. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Scottish settlers bearing the name Gow:

Gow Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Pat Gow, aged 28, landed in New York in 1812
  • John and Walter Gow arrived in New York in 1820
  • Alexander Gow, who arrived in New York in 1844
  • David Gow, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854
  • William Gow, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1871

Gow Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Patrick Gow, aged 19, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Prince Regent"
  • Patrick Gow, aged 19, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1851

Gow Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Margaret Gow arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Avon" in 1860
  • Isabella Gow, aged 24, a servant, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Berar" in 1873

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  • Paul A. Gow, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Montana, 1940
  • Charles Rice Gow, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Boston, Massachusetts, 1929-31
  • Niel Gow (1727-1807), the most famous Scottish fiddler and dancie of the eighteenth century
  • Gerry Gow (b. 1952), Scottish footballer
  • Alan Gow (b. 1982), Scottish football striker
  • General Sir James Michael Gow GCB (b. 1924), retired British Army General
  • Ronald Gow (1897-1993), English dramatist, best known for Love on the Dole (1934)
  • Peter Gow (1818-1886), Scottish-born, Canadian businessman and politician, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1867 to 1876
  • Andrew Sydenham Farrar "A.S.F." Gow (1886-1978), English classical scholar
  • Alan J. Gow (b. 1955), British motor sport executive

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

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  1. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  2. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  3. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  5. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  6. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  7. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  8. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  10. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  11. ...

The Gow Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gow 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 30 January 2016 at 07:19.

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