Recorded as Gow, Gowe, and the diminutives Gowan, Gowin and apparently Gowlett, the patronymics Gowans and Gowanson, this is a surname of Scottish or Gaelic origins. It is occupational for a smith, and therefore logic would suggest that this surname should be the most popular in Scotland. It is however far from that. The origination is the Gaelic word 'gobha' meaning an iron worker or smith, and is usually found as MacGowan or McGowan. Oddly the surname Smith is very popular both in Scotland and England, in the latter country having twice the popularity of any other name. Yet the highest proportion of Smiths anywhere in the world is in the county of Aberdeen, Scotland, hardly leaving room for the Gow(an)s. 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, and Michael Gow who was arrested in Perth in 1595 for 'raiding'. Agnes Gowlett was christened at Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, England, on March 12th 1621, whilst Colin Gowin of Tiree, was denounced as a rebel in 1695. 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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