Logic would suggest that this surname should be the most popular in Scotland, however relatively it is much rarer than its meaning might suggest that it should be. It is occupational and translates from the Gaelic 'gobha' as an iron worker, or in modern parlance 'a smith'. The surname is also recorded as 'MacGowan' which strictly translates as 'The son of little Gow', and is what may be described as a double diminutive, and Gowan, Gowans and Gowanson, all, in surname terms, relatively rare. What is really surprising is that 'Smith' is such a popular surname in England having twice the popularity of any other name, and yet the highest proportion of all 'Smiths' is in the county of Aberdeen, Scotland! The Gow's are regarded as being part of the Clan Chattan, although quite why this should be so, is unclear. Examples of early surname recordings taken from the charters and registers include Alexander Gowansoun, who it is recorded was 'hanged in Dundee' in 1578, although for what crime is not known, Michael Gow, who was arrested in Perth in 1595 for 'raiding', and Colin Gowin of Tiree, who was denounced as a rebel in 1695. John Gowans, recorded in Carluke, Lanark, in 1701, seems to have been quite peaceful, he merely owned 'a tenement'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Gow, which was dated 1580, recorded as a burgess of Dysart, Scotland, during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1543 - 1587. 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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