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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

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

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."


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.

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 MacDowell research. Another 386 words (28 lines of text) covering the years 1268, 1310, 1359, and 1363 are included under the topic Early MacDowell History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the MacDowell 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.


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
  • William MacDowell, who landed in Maryland in 1655

MacDowell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Alexander, Andrew, Elizabeth, James, Janet, Jane, John, Margaret, Peter, and William MacDowell all 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
  • John MacDowell, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816
  • Charles, Daniel, David, Hugh, James, John, Thomas, and William MacDowell all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1870

MacDowell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Sarah MacDowell arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajah" in 1849


  • 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
  • Edward Alexander MacDowell (1861-1908), American composer and pianist
  • 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
  • Charles MacDowell, Canadian Chemist


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. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  2. 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.
  3. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  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. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  7. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  8. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  9. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  10. 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).
  11. ...

The MacDowell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacDowell 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 11 July 2015 at 07:54.

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