Clan MacEwen

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Clan MacEwen
MacEoghainn (Son of Ewen)
Clan member crest badge - Clan MacEwen.svg
Motto Reviresco (I grow strong again)
Region Scottish Highlands
District Cowal, Galloway, Lennox and Perthshire
Clan MacEwen has no chief, and is an armigerous clan

Clan MacEwen (or Clan Ewen) can refer to the historical Clan Ewen of Otter, a Highland Scottish clan recorded in the fifteenth century, and the term is also used to suggest a sense of clanship among people of the MacEwen name today although there might in fact be no connection between Clan Ewen of Otter and the modern name. The modern clan does not have a chief recognized by Lord Lyon King of Arms and as such the clan can be considered an Armigerous clan. The name "MacEwen" means simply "son of Ewen" and could have arisen independently at different times throughout history. The spelling of the MacEwen name pre-dates widespread literacy and many variations can be found.

Historically, there have been several unrelated MacEwen clans and septs, leading to several distinct origins for the modern surname. Each of these historical clans could be described by the name Clan MacEwen. Despite their diverse historical origins, many MacEwens feel that they now constitute a single shared clan based on their shared surname, and are currently engaged in seeking recognition for their own clan chief (see below). However, other MacEwens still cherish links with their ancestral clans.

Historical MacEwen Clans and Septs[edit]

Clan Ewen of Otter
Main article: Clan Ewen of Otter

The MacEwen lords of Otter appear sporadically in fourteenth and fifteenth century records. The genealogy of the clan is recorded in MS 1467, now held by the National Library of Scotland. The last MacEwen of Otter was Swene Mac Ewen, on whose death in 1493 the barony passed into Campbell overlordship.

MacEwens in Galloway

There have been MacEwens in Galloway since at least 1331 (apparently before the first MacEwens of Otter), when one Patrick McEwyn was Provost of Wigtown.[1] According to tradition, these McEwens fought alongside the Agnews of Lochnaw against Black Archibald Douglas.[2]

MacEwens of MacDougall

Many MacEwens still preserve a tradition of descent from Clan MacDougall, and a MacEwen sept is acknowledged by the MacDougall chiefs.[3] The MacEwen bards and sennachies (who served the chiefs of Clans MacDougall and Campbell) are thought to have come from this clan.[4] In particular, it is known that MacEwan of Muckley (the first armiger with the MacEwen name) was descended from Ewen Mor MacDougall, brother of the MacDougall of Lorne.[5] MacEwens in the area of Perthshire and Loch Tay were therefore considered to be a part of Clan MacDougall.[6]

MacEwens of Clan Cameron

During the sixteenth century, a group of Camerons was also known as 'Clan Ewyne'.[7] The leader of this clan was Donald Mac Ewen Vic Ewen Cameron of Erracht who was killed in 1570, and his followers took the MacEwen name. The Gaelic name for this sept is Sliochd Eoghain 'ic Eoghain. MacEwens who took part in the Moyness Raid of 1598 were members of this clan.

Dubious historical traditions[edit]

It is frequently stated that an Act of Parliament of 1602 lists MacEwens beside MacLachlans and McNeils, as vassals of the Earl of Argyll and answerable to him for their behaviour.[8] However, no such Act has yet been identified.

It has been claimed that after Sween MacEwen's death, Clan Maclachlan offered MacEwens the right to join them and gave them a protectorate. To this day the Clan Maclachlan will allow MacEwens to join them [1] However, there seems to be no evidence of this tradition before the late twentieth century.

According to the 19th century historian James Logan, in General Wade's statement of the Highland forces engaged in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, the Mac Ewens of the Isle of Skye were recorded with 150 men.[9] It is possible that Logan misread a reference to 150 "McLeans in the Isle of Skye."

Modern clan symbolism[edit]

The MacEwen tartan is very similar to the tartans of the Campbells.[10]
Crest badge

Many clansfolk today wear a crest badge to show allegiance to their particular clan. Crest badges usually consist of strap-and-buckle surrounding the clan chief's heraldic crest, with the chief's motto written within the strap. Since the clan revival of the early nineteenth century, many MacEwens have adopted the crest of a sprouting oak stump with the Latin motto REVIRESCO ("I grow green / verdant again").[11] This crest badge is not derived from the arms of a previous chief of the clan,[1] but appears to have been in use among the Galloway McEwens from an early date,[12] and may indicate ancestral connections with Clan Bissett which shares the same crest and motto. This crest and motto are recorded in the Arms of the McEwen Baronets (McEwen of Marchmont and Bardrochat).[1][8] These McEwens held lands in Bardrochat in Carrick.[1] The McEwen Baronets may not have any connection with Clan MacEwen of Otter.[1]


MacEwen tartan closely resembles Farquharson and MacLeod of Harris. The sett is similar to Campbell of Loudon tartan except that a red stripe is substituted for white.[10][13]

Current moves to appoint a chief[edit]

On 27 February 2012, the Lord Lyon announced his intention to appoint a Supervising Officer to oversee a future Family Convention or Derbhfine "for those of the [MacEwen] name, broadly defined . . . with a view to the recognition of a Commander."[14]

On 11 October 2012, the Lord Lyon announced the appointment of the Honourable Adam Bruce, Marchmont Herald of Arms, as Supervising Officer for the Family Convention.[15]

The Family Convention is scheduled for 2:00pm, Friday 6th June 2014, at The Beardmore Hotel and Conference Centre, Glasgow.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Iain (1967). The Highland Clans. London: Barrie & Rocklif. pp. 99–100. 
  2. ^ Agnew, Sir Andrew (1893). The Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Black, George Fraser (1946). The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History. p. 491. 
  5. ^ Lyon Register 1, 376
  6. ^ Maclagan, Robert Craig, 1905, The Perth Incident of 1396, Edinburgh & London (Blackwood)
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "MacEwen". Archived from the original on 18 April 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  9. ^ Logan, James (1850). The Scotish Gaël (sic!) (5th American ed.). Hartford: Silas Andrus and Son. p. 77. 
  10. ^ a b "Tartan - MacEwen /MacEwan". Scottish Tartans World Register. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  11. ^ Way of Plean, George; Squire, Romilly (2000). Clans & Tartans. Glasgow: HarperCollins. p. 182. ISBN 0-00-472501-8. 
  12. ^ R. S. T. MacEwen, 1904, Clan Ewen: Some records of its history, p18
  13. ^ Stewart, Donald Calder (1974). The Setts of the Scottish Tartans, with descriptive and historical notes (2nd revised ed.). London: Shepheard-Walwyn. p. 74. ISBN 0-85683-011-9. 
  14. ^
  15. ^