This is a very early Scottish locational surname, and one that should perhaps be better known. It originates from the lands of Govan, on the River Clyde, and in the county of Lanarkshire. It is one of the most ancient of all Scottish surnames, Adam de Govane being a member of an inquest jury at Peebles in the year 1304, whilst William de Gouvane witnessed a land charter by William, Lord Douglas in 1306. Nameholders played a prominent role in the history of Scotland between the 14th and 17th centuries, but the subsequent history is rather more subdued. It is known for instance that the Govans of Peebles were a family of considerable importance, retaining an ancestral estate in the area until 1685, but thereafter although they appeared in the local registers for two centuries more, for some reason they lost all powers and lands, and it is believed that the last of the original family died at the time of the Napoleonic Wars 1795 - 1815. Amongst the many important early name holders was Sir John de Gowen of Maxtoun, in 1326, and Lawrence de Govan, who was sheriff of Peebles in 1359. John de Govane was the prior of the Predicant Friars of Glasgow in 1451, and John Govan, also recorded as John Govand, was a freeman of the city of Glasgow in 1589. The first known recording of the family name is probably that of Symon de Govane, whose wife and widow Christian, held the lands of Govan in her own right, in the year 1293.
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