Recorded as McOwan and McOwen, this is an ancient surname of Scottish origins although widely recorded in Ireland. It derives from the Gaelic name "Mac Eoghainn", meaning the son of Eoghann or Owan, a male given name held to have three distinct possible origins. Firstly it may be a form of the Roman personal name "Eugenius", meaning well-born or noble. Secondly, it may be variant of "Eoin", itself a Gaelic form of John, from the Hebrew "Yochanan", meaning Jehovah has favoured me with a son. Finally, Owan may derive from a proto-Celtic name variously interpreted as youth or lamb from either the Welsh "oen" meaning young, or the Gaelic "uain",meaning lamb. Early examples of the name recording include Ewen Britto recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 for Herefordshire, and in 1164, Ewain Vicecomes de Scon, witnessed King Malcolm's of Scotland's charter to the abbey of Scon. Early examples of the surname include: Patrick McEwyn of Wigtown, in 1331; Johannes M'Eogan of Argyllshire, in 1355, and George Makewin in the Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, 1526. It is interesting to note that the surname MacOwen was one of the most widespread names recorded in Petty's 1659 "Census" of all Ireland, namebearers being either of Gaelic Irish stock, or descended from Scottish settlers. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Malcolm Mac Ewen, which was dated circa 1174, in the "Chartulary of the Priory of St. Andrew's", Scotland, during the reign of King William "The Lion" of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. 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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