Usually recorded as MacGow and McGow, this is a Scottish and sometimes Irish, surname of antiquity. It has several possible origins. The first and most likely is as a short form of MacGowan, itself from the pre 10th century Gaelic Mac Gobhann (Scotland), and Mac Gabhann (Ireland). These are patronymics from occupational bynames and translate as the son of the worker in iron, which in later years was taken to mean a smith. However it is more likely that it referred specifically to a maker of armour.The surname may also be an anglicized form of the Gaelic Mac Owein, a patronymic from the given name Owen or Ewan, itself deriving from the Greek Eugenios meaning "well-born or noble" or the Hebrew Yochan, the European Johan or John, meaning "god has given me a son". The surname spellings can include such forms as McGowing, McGown, MacGoun, Mac Gow, Gowan and Gowans. Amongst the many recordings inb Scotland are those of Donald M'Gow, who leased the lands of Drwmfolatyn in 1444, Glaschen McGow who took over the lease in 1473, and Robert M'Gou, a tenant of Drumfallantin in Cupar-Angus in 1512. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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