McGown History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

McGown was first used as a surname among the descendants of the ancient Scottish people known as the Picts. It was a name for a metalworker. The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghobhainn, which means son of the smith. [1]

Early Origins of the McGown family

The surname McGown 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 McGown family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGown 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 McGown History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGown Spelling Variations

Before the first dictionaries appeared in the last few hundred years, scribes spelled according to sound. spelling variations are common among Scottish names. McGown has been spelled MacGowan, McGowan, MacGowin, McGowin, MacGowen, McGowen, Gow, Gowan, Gowen, Gowin, MacGavin, McGavin and many more.

Early Notables of the McGown 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 McGown Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the McGown family to Ireland

Some of the McGown 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 McGown migration to the United States +

In those unstable times, many had no choice but to leave their beloved homelands. Sickness and poverty hounded travelers to North America, but those who made it were welcomed with land and opportunity. These settlers gave the young nations of Canada and the United States a strong backbone as they stood up for their beliefs as United Empire Loyalists and in the American War of Independence. In this century, the ancestors of these brave Scots have begun to recover their illustrious heritage through Clan societies and other heritage organizations. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Scottish settlers bearing the name McGown:

McGown Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hector McGown, who arrived in New York, NY in 1739 [2]
  • John McGown, who arrived in New York in 1739 [2]
  • Malcom McGown, who arrived in New York, NY in 1739 [2]
  • Meredith McGown, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773 [2]
  • James McGown, aged 25, who landed in New York in 1774 [2]
McGown Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Andrew McGown, who landed in New York in 1825 [2]

New Zealand McGown migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

McGown Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • D. McGown, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Robert Henderson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 9th February 1858 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name McGown (post 1700) +

  • Eva McGown (1883-1972), born Eva Montgomery, Irish-born, American host in Fairbanks, Alaska to newcomers for over three decades, known as the "hostess of Fairbanks," featured in a Reader's Digest article and on the biographical television program This is Your Life
  • J. H. McGown, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Vermont, 1936 [4]
  • Sean McGown (b. 1962), Irish professional footballer
  • Jill McGown (1947-2007), British writer of mystery novels
  • Thomas Melville Watson McGown (1876-1956), Irish international rugby union forward


The McGown 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. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  4. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 10) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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