This interesting name, widespread in Scotland and Ulster, is an Anglicized form of the old Gaelic MacEoghain or MacEoin. The Gaelic prefix "mac" means "son of", plus the personal name Eoghan from the old Celtic "Oue(i)n", well-born, but believed to derive ultimately from the Greek "Eugenious", "born lucky" or "well-born". In Ireland Eugene replaced Eoin, the old Irish form of John, and the various patronymic forms of the name include MacOwen, MacCown, MacCone, MacKeown. The forms Cowan, Cowen and Kewon resulted from the subsequent loss of the "Mac" prefix. In 1582 one, John Cowan was Chancellor of Christ church, Waterford, and in 1639 Cowan's Hospital in Stirling was founded by John Cowan, a merchant there. On June 29th 1643 Marionne Cowan and George Mwir were married in Ochiltree, Ayrshire. On May 8th 1846 Pat Cowan, a merchant, aged 21 yrs., embarked from Liverpool on the "Rochester" bound for New York. He was a famine immigrant to that city. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Cowan, (marriage to Edward Humphery), which was dated November 12th 1580, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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