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

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

When Magowan was first used as a surname among the ancient Scottish people, it was a name for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith.


The arts of spelling and translation were yet in their infancies when surnames began, so there are an enormous number of spelling variations of the names in early Scottish records. This is a particular problem with Scottish names because of the numerous times a name might have been loosely translated to English from Gaelic and back. Magowan 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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Magowan research. Another 315 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1396, 1613, 1698 and 1725 are included under the topic Early Magowan History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Magowan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Magowan 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.


This oppression forced many Scots to leave their homelands. Most of these chose North America as their destination. Although the journey left many sick and poor, these immigrants were welcomed the hardy with great opportunity. Many of these settlers stood up for their newfound freedom in the American War of Independence. More recently, Scots abroad have recovered much of their collective heritage through highland games and other patriotic functions and groups. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has located various settlers bearing the name Magowan:

Magowan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Walter Magowan, who landed in Virginia in 1768

Magowan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Magowan, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1803-1827
  • Saml Magowan, aged 36, arrived in America in 1822
  • John Magowan, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1831

Magowan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Mary Magowan, aged 26, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo
  • Mary Magowan, aged 29, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo
  • Ellen Magowan, aged 33, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo
  • Mary Magowan, aged 25, landed in Quebec in 1834
  • Nancy Magowan, aged 24, arrived in Quebec in 1834


  • Peter A. Magowan (b. 1942), American former managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants Major League Baseball team
  • Sir John Hall Magowan KBE, CMG, LLD (d. 1951), British diplomat, British Ambassador to Venezuela from 1948 to 1951
  • Peter Magowan (1762-1810), English-born, Canadian lawyer and politician in Prince Edward Island
  • Ken Magowan (b. 1981), Canadian professional ice hockey player
  • Katie Victoria "Kate" Magowan (b. 1975), English actress
  • John MaGowan (b. 1941), Northern Irish darts player


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. 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).
  2. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  3. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  4. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  5. 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.
  6. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  7. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The Magowan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Magowan 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 6 December 2012 at 07:50.

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