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For other uses, see McCown (disambiguation).
Family name
Meaning Son of Eoghan
Region of origin Ulster Manx Scotland
Language(s) of origin Celtic
Related names McCoan
McCowan MacCowan
McCowen MacCowen
McCowin MacCowin
McEwan MacEwan
McEwen MacEwen
McGowan MacGowan

McCown is a Celtic-language surname with several possible etymological origins.


McCown is an Celtic-language surname. There are several possible etymologies for the name. Its variants include anglicised forms of the Gaelic names Mac Eòghain, Mac Eòin, Mac Còmhghan, MacEachain, and Mac Gobhainn.

The Gaelic prefixes, ( Mac and Mc )' translate to "son of" in English. The Gaelic prefixes ( Giolla, Gille, Gil, El, Il ) translate to "servant of" in English.[1] Mac Ailin .i. Giolla Epscoip mac Giolla Epscoip an t-aon-mac Gaoidhil as lugha dob olc i n-Albain ["Mac Allen ( Gilla-Easpuig, the son of Gilla-Easpuig), by no means the least distinguished of the Gaels of Scotland"] The mac Giola Epscoip meaning the servant of the Church became the Gillespie.

Mac Eòghain[edit]

Mac Eoghain is the most likely etymological origin for the surname McCown. The Gaelic name Eòghan translates into modern day English as Ewen or Owen. The prefix of Eo in Eoghan, is often pronounced yew. This has caused many to translate Eoghan to mean Born of the Yew.[2] As such, this may also indicate the name derives from the profession of a yewer( archer/bower ).[3] Eo, also sometimes translates to mean Salmon.[4] It has also come to mean Well Born based on the Latinized form of Eugenius.[5] The name Eoghan often has very strong associations to the Irish King Eógan mac Néill for which Clan MacEwen is thought to have ancestral ties. Other notable Eógans include Owain mab Urien, Owain Gwynedd, Owain Ddantgwyn, Éogan Mór, Saint Eoghan, Eógan I of Strathclyde, Eógan II of Strathclyde, Eóganan mac Óengusa, Eóghan of Argyll and Éogan mac Durthacht,.

Mac Eòin[edit]

The name Eòin is a Gaelic form of John.[6] Mac Eoin often anglicized as (McKeon/McKeown) is thought to have derived, in some cases, from Mac Eoin Bissett.

Mac Còmhghan[edit]

The name Còmhghan and its variants ( Còmhan, Comhainn, Còmhain ) is derived from comh ("together") and gan-, gen- ("born").[7] a.k.a. Twins and is frequently associated with the surname Cowan. The name Mac Giolla Còmhghan, translates into English as son of the servant of Comhghain. This generally translates to mean follower of St. Comgan. St. Comgan was the son of Cellach Cualann, brother of St. Caintigerna and uncle of St. Fillan. One of the King of Scots, Lulach Mac Gille Coemgáin had this name. Mac Giolla Còmhghan is frequently associated with the anglicized surname McElhone.[8] Phonetically, McElhone seems similar to Mac Colquhoun.

Mac Eachainn[edit]

MacEachainn is a Pictish name of Galloway, Scotland. The family name McCaughan (pronounced Me Cachan in the old lands; as Me Cawhan in the Americans) is found variously recorded in public and private documents since the eleventh century, and with C, K, and G, of which C predominates, and is the Anglicized phonetic rendering of their Gaelic surname MacEachain, meaning the "son of Eachain".[9]

Mac Gobhainn[edit]

In Ireland and Scotland, the word for smith, gobha, is found in the surname MacGowan/McGowan. This surname is an Anglicised form of Mac Gobhann (Scottish Gaelic), Mac Gabhann (Irish), meaning "son of the smith".[10]

Other possibilities[edit]

Other possible derivations of the name may come from the Manx language word Cowan and its variants (Cowanagh, Coan, Couan) which are defined as either a shelter between two hills, or inhabitant of the plains.[11] Also worth mentioning is the Old Irish word cúan which means bay, gulf, harbour or sea.[12] The prefix in the name Cúan can also mean hound. Cúan is pronounced as Koo awn.[13] This name stems from Cú Chulainn who is famous for killing a hound. The name Cuan can also mean a little warrior and tends to be synonymous with the names Quain, Quane, and Quan.[14]

Clan Associations[edit]

If the surname McCown is a spelling variation of MacEwen, then McCowns may belong to Clan MacEwen. Clan Colquhoun, Clan MacDougall and Clan Campbell[15] of Scotland recognize the surname variants of Cowan, McCowan and McOwan as septs of their clans. Clan Donald and Clan MacPherson recognize MacGowan, MacGown and MacGoun as septs of their clans.


Some McCown males that have participated in Genealogical DNA testing have received positive results for haplogroup R1b1a2 (R-M269). However, deeper SNP testing has revealed that not all McCowns have the same Y-DNA origins.

One of the genetic male lines of McCowns have tested positive for the SNP (R-DF41). These McCowns share an ancient lineage with the surname McLellan whose clan has strong ties to Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland.

Another genetic line of McCowns have tested positive for the SNP (R-P66) which is seemingly rare and exclusive to only McCowns. R1b1a2a1a1b3a2a is thought to have ties to Airgíalla Ireland because of a similar haplotype to many McGuires even though McGuires don't test positive for the R-P66 SNP.

There are several other lines of McCowns of various spellings, but more research needs to be done in order to help isolate their origins.

Persons with the surname[edit]



  1. ^ The 'Muls' and 'Gils': Some Irish Surnames, The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume III, 1898 
  2. ^ Yew, 
  3. ^ A History of Surnames of the British Isles (PDF), 
  4. ^ eo, 
  5. ^ Eoghan, 
  6. ^ EÓIN, 
  7. ^ COMHGHAN, .
  8. ^ Mac Giolla Chomhdhain, 
  9. ^ The McCaughans of Scotland and Ireland, 
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ The Manx Dictionary, 
  12. ^ cúan 
  13. ^ Irish Names From Ancient to Modern 
  14. ^ O'Cuiain: A Little Warrior, Lagin Pedigrees from the O'Clery Book of Genealogies: MacMurrough - Kings of Leinster 
  15. ^ MacCowan sept of Clan Campbell, Clan Campbell Society of North America 

External links[edit]