McGow History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname McGow comes from the Gaelic Mac Ghobhainn, meaning son of the smith. [1]

Early Origins of the McGow family

The surname McGow was 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. Due to the Anglicization of the Gaelic name, spellings were often widely different.

"MacGowan (McGowan) is the name of an old Stirling family. Gilcallum McGoun had a precept of remission for rapine and other crimes on the lands of the abbot of Cupar, 1503 (RSS., I, 953). Gilbert Makgowin, a follower of the earl of Cassilis, was respited for murder in 1526 (ibid., 3386). William McGown in Pitcalny, a follower of Ross of Pitcalny, 1592 (RPC., V, p. 31). Murchie McGowy or Muithie McGowne in Fanmoir, Mull, was put to horn in 1629 (RPC., 2 ser. II, p. 341; III, p. 45). Alister McGhowin, an engager on royalist side, in parish of Urray, 1649 (IDR., p. 368). Alexander M'Gowne was retoured heir in the lands of Langlandes of Lochanes in the territory of Dumfries, 1672." [2]

"In the reign of David II there was a Clan M'Gowan, probably located somewhere on the river Nith, whose chiefship was adjudged to Donald Edzear (RMS., I, App II, 982). This Edzear was a descendant of Dunegal of Stranith (Nithsdale), whose seat was at Morton, Dumfriesshire, about the beginning of the twelfth century. The name here may indicate descent from Owen the Bald (the Eugenius Calvin of Simeon of Durham), king of the Strathclyde Britons, who was killed in 1018." [2]

Early History of the McGow family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGow research. Another 158 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1396, 1613, 1698, 1725, 1631, 1683, 1631, 1658, 1661 and are included under the topic Early McGow History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGow Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: MacGowan, McGowan, MacGowin, McGowin, MacGowen, McGowen, Gow, Gowan, Gowen, Gowin, MacGavin, McGavin and many more.

Early Notables of the McGow family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was John Gow (c. 1698-1725), Scottish notorious pirate probably born in Wick, Caithness whose short career was immortalized by Charles Johnson in "A General History of the Pyrates." Thomas Gowan (1631-1683), was a writer on logic, "born at Caldermuir, Scotland...
Another 46 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGow Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McGow family to Ireland

Some of the McGow family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 99 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McGow migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McGow Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James McGow, aged 35, who settled in America, in 1894
  • James McGow, aged 24, who immigrated to the United States, in 1896
McGow Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mary Ann McGow, aged 58, who landed in America from Dundee, Scotland, in 1923
  • Thomas McGow, aged 60, who immigrated to America from Dundee, Scotland, in 1923
  • Thomas Richard McGow, aged 37, who landed in America from Dundee, Scotland, in 1923
  • George Stobie McGow, aged 1, who landed in America from Broughty Ferry, Scotland, in 1924
  • Margaret Anderson McGow, aged 25, who immigrated to the United States from Broughty Ferry, Scotland, in 1924


The McGow 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: Juncta arma decori
Motto Translation: Arms united to merit.


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ 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)


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