McCawell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

An ancient Strathclyde-Briton family from the Scottish/English Borderlands were the first to use the name McCawell. It is a name for a person with a crooked mouth, or crooked smile. This nickname surname is derived from the Gaelic words cam and beul, meaning crooked and mouth. Nicknames could be derived from various sources. In general, they came from the physical characteristics, behavior, mannerisms and other attributes of the bearer.

Early Origins of the McCawell family

The surname McCawell was first found in Argyllshire (Gaelic erra Ghaidheal), the region of western Scotland corresponding roughly with the ancient Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Argyll and Bute. Researchers suggest a joint progenitor of both the Campbells and the MacArthurs. The MacArthurs were the ancient senior sept of the Campbells. Arthur derives from the son of King Aedan MacGabhran, the 9th century Scots King of Argyll. The Clan Campbell was known as the Siol Diarmaid an Tuirc or, alternatively, the Clan Duibhne, and in a Crown charter Duncan MacDuibhne was ancestor of the Lords of Lochow in 1368.

Sir Colin Campbell, son of Sir Archibald, was succeeded by Sir Duncan in 1427. Sir Duncan's second son, Black Colin of Glenorchy founded the Campbells of Breadalbane. He built the castle of Caolchurn and married Margeret Stewart, heiress of the Lords of Lorn. After the Battle of Harlaw in 1411 in which the MacDonalds were badly defeated by the King, the Campbells, took advantage of the situation to acquire more territory from the MacDonalds.

In 1517 the Campbells and the MacLeans of Duart were called upon by the Crown to again suppress the Lord of the Isles, MacDonald of Lochalsh, who had seized two Royal Castles. Lochalsh went to the scaffold and the Campbells acquired more land. Their Chiefs were bestowed with knighthoods, baronies and Earldoms. The Earl of Argyll becoming Chancellor of Scotland to James IV, and through his influence achieved a measure of peace throughout the Highlands.

Early History of the McCawell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCawell research. Another 244 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1437, 1701, 1878, 1437, 1607, 1661, 1629, 1685, 1630, 1696, 1701, 1636, 1717, 1757, 1662, 1609, 1610, 1662, 1668, 1663, 1699 and are included under the topic Early McCawell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McCawell Spelling Variations

Scribes in Medieval Scotland spelled names by sound rather than any set of rules, so an enormous number of spelling variations exist in names of that era. McCawell has been spelled Campbell, Cambell, Cambel, Camble, Cammell and many more.

Early Notables of the McCawell family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Sir Duncan Campbell, the first Earl in 1437; Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquis of Argyll, 8th Earl of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, (1607-1661); and his son, Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll (1629-1685), a Scottish peer; Robert Campbell, 5th Laird of Glenlyon (1630-1696), Scottish noble, best known as one of the commanding officers at the Massacre of Glencoe; Sir Archibald Campbell, who became the first Duke of Argyll in 1701; John Campbell, 1st Earl of Breadalbane and Holland (1636-1717), known as "Slippery John", Scottish peer during the Glorious...
Another 96 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCawell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McCawell family to Ireland

Some of the McCawell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 63 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Canada McCawell migration to Canada +

The number of Strathclyde Clan families sailing for North America increased steadily as the persecution continued. In the colonies, they could find not only freedom from the iron hand of the English government, but land to settle on. The American War of Independence allowed many of these settlers to prove their independence, while some chose to go to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Scots played essential roles in the forging of both great nations. Among them:

McCawell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Ms. Helen McCawell, aged 25 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Yorkshire" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847 [1]
  • Mr. John McCawell, aged 1 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "John Munn" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847 [1]


The McCawell 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: Ne obliviscaris
Motto Translation: Forget not.


  1. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 43)


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