McGowen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
To the ancient Scottish name McGowen was a nickname for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith. 
Early Origins of the McGowen family
The surname McGowen 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." 
"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." 
Early History of the McGowen family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGowen 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 McGowen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
McGowen Spelling Variations
The appearance of the printing press and the first dictionaries in the last few hundred years did much to standardize spelling. Prior to that time scribes spelled according to sound, a practice that resulted in many spelling variations. McGowen has been spelled MacGowan, McGowan, MacGowin, McGowin, MacGowen, McGowen, Gow, Gowan, Gowen, Gowin, MacGavin, McGavin and many more.
Early Notables of the McGowen 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...
In the United States, the name McGowen is the 9,663rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 
Migration of the McGowen family to Ireland
Some of the McGowen family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
The expense of the crossing to the North American colonies seemed small beside the difficulties of remaining in Scotland. It was a long and hard trip, but at its end lay the reward of freedom. Some Scots remained faithful to England and called themselves United Empire Loyalists, while others fought in the American War of Independence. Much of this lost Scottish heritage has been recovered in the last century through Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important, early immigrants to North America bearing the name of McGowen:
McGowen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Some of the first settlers of this family name were:
McGowen Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
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.