Show ContentsMacDowell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The MacDowell 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." [1] [2]

"The claim of the Macdowells of Galloway to be descended from the ancient native lords of Galloway can neither be disproved nor can it be satisfactorily established." [3]

Early Origins of the MacDowell family

The surname MacDowell was first found in South Ayrshire where "Mactheuel witnessed a charter by Uchtredus filius Fergusi of the church of Colmanele (now known as Colmonell) in the reign of Malcolm IV. Fergus McDuhile in Wigton was juror on inquest at Berwick, 1296, and in same year as Fergus MacDowilt rendered homage [to King Edward I of England.] He is probably the Fergus MacDowile who witnessed a charter by William, lord of Douglas, 1306-29 (RHM., l, p. 13). In 1307 a pardon was granted Elyas de Vaus at the request of Duncan MacDuel, and in same year Dungall MacDouyl, senior, for services rendered, requested for his son Dungal, junior, the marriage of the daughter and heiress of Hugh de Champaigne, deceased, a tenant in capite." [3]

Early History of the MacDowell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacDowell research. Another 372 words (27 lines of text) covering the years 1684, 1312, 1347, 1354, 1578, 1390, 1416, 1515, 1609, 1621, 1602, 1677, 1675, 1268, 1359, 1363, 1590, 1666, 1690, 1597, 1603, 1605, 1650, 1653, 1685, 1760, 1685, 1708, 1755, 1760, 1744, 1739, 1824, 1739, 1743, 1766, 1766 and are included under the topic Early MacDowell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacDowell Spelling Variations

Translation in medieval times was an undeveloped science and was often carried out without due care. For this reason, many early Scottish names appeared radically altered when written in English. The spelling variations of MacDowell include MacDowall, MacDowell, MacDugald, MacDill, Dowall, Dowler and many more.

Early Notables of the MacDowell family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Duncan, Earl of Carrick; Ewen MacDougall (fl. 1268), Lord of Argyll; and Thomas MacDowell, Bishop of Galloway (1359-1363). William MacDowell (1590-1666), the Scottish diplomatist, born in October 1690 at Makerstoun, Roxburghshire, was son of Thomas Macdowell by Johanna, daughter of Sir Andrew Ker of Greenhead. From 1597 to 1603 he attended Musselburgh school, and in 1605 proceeded to St. Andrews, where he had a distinguished career. King Charles I would have made him a Scottish privy councillor had not the civil war broke out On 4 June 1650. Macdowell became Charles II's resident agent...
Another 255 words (18 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacDowell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the MacDowell family to Ireland

Some of the MacDowell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States MacDowell migration to the United States +

The hardy Scots who made the crossing settled all along the east coast of North America and in the great west that was just then opening up. At the time of the American War of Independence, many United Empire Loyalists moved north from the American colonies to Canada. Scottish national heritage became better known in North America in the 20th century through highland games and other patriotic events. An examination of immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name MacDowell arrived in North America very early:

MacDowell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Sander MacDowell, who arrived in New England in 1651-1652 [4]
  • William MacDowell, who landed in Maryland in 1655 [4]
MacDowell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Alexander, Andrew, Elizabeth, James, Janet, Jane, John, Margaret, Peter, and William MacDowell all, who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1767
MacDowell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Alexander MacDowell, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815 [4]
  • John MacDowell, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816 [4]
  • Charles, Daniel, David, Hugh, James, John, Thomas, and William MacDowell all, who arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1870

Australia MacDowell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

MacDowell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mary Macdowell, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Rajah" [5]
  • Sarah Macdowell, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Rajah" [5]
  • Sarah MacDowell, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajah" in 1849 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name MacDowell (post 1700) +

  • Edward Alexander MacDowell (1860-1908), American composer and pianist of the Romantic period, one of the first members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1904
  • Jay MacDowell, former professional American NFL football player
  • Marian MacDowell (1857-1956), American pianist, founder and developer of the MacDowell Colony
  • Rosalie Anderson "Andie" MacDowell (b. 1958), American Golden Camera winning, three-time Golden Globe nominated actress and model
  • Fernando MacDowell (1945-2018), Brazilian engineer and politician
  • Patrick MacDowell RA (1799-1870), Northern Irish sculptor
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Thain Wendell MacDowell (1890-1960), Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross during the First World War for his actions at Vimy Ridge [6]
  • Charles MacDowell, Canadian Chemist


The MacDowell 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: Vincere vel mori
Motto Translation: Victory


  1. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. ^ Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RAJAH 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Rajah.htm
  6. ^ Thain MacDowell. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Thain MacDowell. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thain_Wendell_MacDowell


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