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The ancient Scottish name McCowan was first used by the Strathclyde-Briton people of the Scottish/English Borderlands. The original bearer of the name lived in the Scottish-English border region. The McCowan family lived in Ayrshire.

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The surname McCowan was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

The many spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names result from the fact that scribes in that era spelled words according to sound. Translation too, was an undeveloped science, and many names were altered into complete obscurity. Over the years McCowan has been spelled Cowan, Cowans, Cowen, Cowens, MacCowan, MacCowden and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCowan research. Another 185 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCowan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early McCowan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the McCowan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 265 words (19 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape the uncertainties and discrimination faced in Scotland, many decided to head out for North America. Once they arrived, many Scots fought with relish in the American War of Independence; some went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Many ancestors of these Scots have recovered their lost national heritage in the 20th century through Clan organizations and Scottish historical societies. Among the settlers to North America were:

McCowan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Patrick McCowan, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1764

McCowan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • John T McCowan, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1856
  • Agnes McCowan, aged 16, arrived in New York in 1864
  • J. G. McCowan, aged 32, who landed in America from Glasgow, in 1892
  • Grace McCowan, aged 5, who emigrated to the United States, in 1895

McCowan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Rosa McCowan, aged 24, who settled in America from Georgetown, in 1904
  • Wm. McCowan, aged 34, who landed in America from Georgetown, in 1904
  • John McCowan, aged 47, who landed in America from Paisley, in 1906
  • Harry McCowan, aged 34, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1908
  • Patrick McCowan, aged 21, who settled in America from Ballina, Ireland, in 1909


McCowan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. Patrick McCowan U.E. who settled in Saint Johns, New Brunswick c. 1784

McCowan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • James McCowan arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fairfield" in 1839
  • Susannah McCowan arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fairfield" in 1839

McCowan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • David McCowan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1874
  • Jessie McCowan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1874

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  • Mandy McCowan, American production manager, known for The Walking Dead (2010), The Collection (2012) and One Missed Call (2008)
  • Andrew McCowan, Scottish founder of McCowan's Ltd, a Scottish confectionery company specializing in toffee and fudge
  • John McCowan (1863-1900), Scottish physicist
  • George McCowan (1927-1995), Canadian Western Heritage Award winning film and television director, known for Seeing Things (1981), The Forest Rangers (1963) Charlie's Angels (1976-1980) and The Return of Mod Squad (1979)
  • Robert Herman "Bob" McCowan (1875-1941), Australian rugby union player who represented the Australia National Team in 1899
  • Alexander McCowan (1853-1939), Canadian farmer and politician in Ontario, eponym of McCowan Rd, Scarborough
  • Sir Hew Cargill McCowan (1930-1998), 3rd Baronet of Dalwhat in the County of Dumfries, Scottish peer
  • Sir David James Cargill McCowan (1897-1965), 2nd Baronet of Dalwhat in the County of Dumfries, Scottish peer
  • Sir David William Cargill McCowan (b. 1934), 4th Baronet of Dalwhat in the County of Dumfries, Scottish peer
  • Mr. James McCowan, British Fireman from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking on May 29th 1914

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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: Sic itur in altum
Motto Translation: This is the way to heaven.

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  1. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  2. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  3. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  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. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  6. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  9. 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.
  10. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The McCowan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McCowan 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 9 April 2016 at 16:56.

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