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. [1]

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.

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...
Another 46 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGowen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McGowen family to Ireland

Some of the McGowen 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 McGowen migration to the United States +

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
  • Christopher McGowen, aged 35, who landed in New York in 1812 [2]
  • Daniel McGowen, aged 25, who arrived in New York in 1812 [2]
  • Barbara McGowen, who landed in New York, NY in 1817 [2]
  • Patrick McGowen, aged 23, who arrived in America in 1821 [2]
  • John McGowen, aged 30, who arrived in Missouri in 1844 [2]

Canada McGowen migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McGowen Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Ann McGowen, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833
  • James McGowen, aged 16, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833
  • Janie McGowen, aged 19, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Betsy Heron" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Catherine McGowen, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1835
  • Ella McGowen, who arrived in Esquimalt, British Columbia in 1862

Contemporary Notables of the name McGowen (post 1700) +

  • Mrs. F. W. McGowen, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from North Carolina, 1944 [3]
  • Eileen McGowen, American Democrat politician, Member of New York Democratic State Committee, 1930 [3]
  • James Sinclair Taylor McGowen (1855-1922), Australian politician, 18th Premier of New South Wales (1910-1913)

The McGowen 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. ^ 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)
  3. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 10) . Retrieved from on Facebook
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