Recorded in many forms including: Gow, Gowan, Gowans, Gowanson, Guan, and Going, as well as dialectals such as Quogan, Quoane, Quonne, logic would suggest that this surname should be the most popular in Scotland and Ireland since it means "smith". However it is much rarer than its meaning might suggest that it should be. It derives from the Gaelic "gobha", meaning an iron worker. Also recorded as MacGowan which strictly translates as the son of the ironworker. What is surprising is that Smith is such a popular surname in England having almost twice the popularity of any other name, and yet the highest proportion of all Smiths is to be found in the county of Aberdeen, Scotland! The (Mac)Gowan'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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