Show ContentsMcCowen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The roots of the name McCowen are found among the Strathclyde-Briton people of the ancient Scottish/English Borderlands. McCowen was originally found in the Scottish-English border region. The McCowen family lived in Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, and other Lowland counties. The name may be from the Scottish word cowan, a dry-stone-diker or more likely a corruption of Colquhoun, the common pronunciation of which is Cohoon. "Mr. Alexander Cowan, father of Sir John Cowan of Beeslack is said to have left on record that many of his grandfather's books bore the name of Colquhoun." [1]

Early Origins of the McCowen family

The surname McCowen was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland where a name like Iain MacComhain becomes Iain Comhan in Gaelic while the English equivalent is Cowan. The name of James Cowhen, chaplain in North Berwick, 1560. [1]

Early History of the McCowen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCowen research. Another 105 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1852, 1865, 1868, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1876, 1876 and are included under the topic Early McCowen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McCowen Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that rules have developed and the process of spelling according to sound has been abandoned. Scottish names from before that time tend to appear under many different spelling variations. McCowen has been spelled Cowan, Cowans, Cowen, Cowens, MacCowan, MacCowden and many more.

Early Notables of the McCowen family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Frederic Hymen Cowen, born Jan. 29, 1852, at Kingston, Jamaica, exhibited early an extraordinary love of music, was brought to England by his parents when four years old, and placed under the tuition of Sir J. Benedict and Sir J. Goss, whose pupil he remained until the winter of 1865. He then studied at the conservatoires of Leipzig and Berlin, returning to London...
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCowen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McCowen family to Ireland

Some of the McCowen family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States McCowen migration to the United States +

Unwelcome in their beloved homeland, many Scots sailed for the colonies of North America. There, they found land and freedom, and even the opportunity to make a new nation in the American War of Independence. These Scottish settlers played essential roles in the founding of the United States, and the shaping of contemporary North America. Among them:

McCowen Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Elizabeth McCowen, who landed in Augusta County, Va in 1740 [2]
  • Francis McCowen, who arrived in Augusta County, Va in 1740 [2]
  • Markham McCowen, who landed in Augusta County, Va in 1740 [2]
  • John McCowen, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [2]
McCowen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James McCowen, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1806 [2]
  • Betsy McCowen, aged 20, who arrived in New York in 1854 [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name McCowen (post 1700) +

  • Edward Oscar McCowen (1877-1953), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio (1943-1949)
  • Alexander Duncan "Alec" McCowen CBE (1925-2017), English actor, member of the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Donald Henry Ewan McCowen (1908-1998), Irish rower at the 1932 Summer Olympics

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

  1. 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)
  2. 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) on Facebook