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My McDowell Family..."Older Than The Sun"

Macdowall of Garthland Arms by Alexander Nisbet. Reproduced by L.B. McDowell.Example of Macdowall of Freugh Arms.
Reproduced by L.B. McDowell.Example of Macdouall of Logan Arms.
Reproduced by L.B. McDowell.

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Origins of the family name...

       “Macdowal is known to be amongst the ancientest sirnames of Scotland, because he bears a Lyon collard, with a broken Crown about his neck, in remembrance of Dovallus (Dowal), his Predecesessors (as is alleg’d) killing Nothatus, who was a Tyrant, and who liv’d many years before Christ: which (if true) are the Ancientest Arms I ever saw belonging to any private family in Europe.”

 – Note from Mackenzie’s Heraldry of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1680).


       "Mac or Mc. Most of the many Gallovidian family names (including McDowell) which might appear to commence properly with 'Mac' are rendered (instead) as 'Mc'. The Gaelic 'mac', according to the Scots Gaelic dictionaries, signifies 'son; the young of any animal.' This would appear to be a very limited and inadequate definition. It also implies 'of the family of,' 'of the clan of,' 'of the followers of'. Surnames were not introduced – in Galloway at least – until the 12th century. If a person named, say, Fergus is described as 'of the clan of the black Gaels,' the Gaelic form generally given would be
'Fearghas mac dubh Ghael' or 'Fearghas mac dubh Ghaidhail.' As the meaning is intended to be 'Fergus of the _____' it would appear that the word 'mac' should be in the genitive form 'mic'. This in pronunciation and spelling would become 'Mc' as distinct from 'Mac'. It would appear accordingly that the Gallovidian-Pictish, and to some extent the Scots-Celtic form 'Mc' for 'Mic' was more accurate that 'Mac'.

       Regarding the forms Macdouall, McDouall, Macdowall, or McDowall (McDowell), there is no letter 'w' in the Scots Gaelic alphabet – or dictionaries. It occurs, however, in the Welsh form of Gaelic. Gallovidian Pictish Gaelic appears to have had or developed the letter 'w'. It occurs not only in the majority of the forms of the family name mentioned but also in such key words as Solway, Galloway, dow, wig, etc. The Logan branch of the family use the form McDouall. Freuch (Freugh), Garthland and most of the other branches use the form McDowall. The use of 'Mac' (as distinct from Mc) in Galloway is rare."

 – From Carrick Gallovidian, J. Kevan McDowall, F.S.A. Scot., Ayr, 1947.


Spelling Variations   |   Ancient Origins   |   Mhic Dhu Ghaill ...the dark stranger   |   Eire, the Isles, Alba and Galloway   |   Origins of Prince Fergus   |   Lochfergus   |   The Lords and The Line   |   Heraldry   |   The Ruthven Raid   |   Ulster Kith and Kin   |   Coming to America   |   Settling the Frontier   |   Oh Shenandoah!   |   The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon   |   The Great Joseph Controversy   |   McDowell Heirloom Returned   |   Westward Ho!   |    My McDowell Line   |   My MacDowall Ancestors   |   Family Tartans   |   McDowell Places   |   The McDowell Family DNA Project   |   Scottish Shops Online   |   About Us   |   Contact Us   |   My Site Awards   |   My Site Awards p.2   |   References, Suggested Reading, and Special Acknowledgements   |   Newly Published...   |   McDowell WebLinks   |   Copyright

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Last updated: 20 June 2009      
    
    
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