According to Mr
Fraser-Mackintosh, there is a tradition that the Gows are descended from Henry, the smith
who fought at the North Inch battle, he having accompanied the remnant of the
Mackintoshes, and settled in Strathnairn. Being bandy-legged, he was called "Gow
Chrom". At any rate, this branch of clan Chattan has long been known as "Sliochd
an Gow Chrom". Gow is a "smith", and thus a section of the multitudinous
tribe of Smiths may claim connection with the great clan Chattan.
Gow is Gaelic gobhan,
smith or blacksmith. In those days every clan would have needed to make weapons and shoes
for its horses. Several ancient families are recorded, notably in Stirlingshire and
Dumfriesshire, but the main one appears to have been closely associated with the Clan
Neil Gow (1727-1807) and his son Nathaniel (1766-1831), both
born in Inver, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, were pre-eminent among composers and players of
fiddle music. It is not inconceiavable that Neil, or his father (who was a plaid weaver),
designed the trews he is wearing in four protraits by Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), the
pattern of which has become the sett of the Gow tartan.
GOW, GOWAN, MACGOWAN: With other variants, these are anglicised names derived from the Gaelic, Gobha, a smith. The usual genitive form of gobha is gobhainn, which gives us GOWAN and the same applies to Mac a'Ghobhainn, (Son of the Smith), which becomes MACGOWAN. As the trade would be one required in most clans or communities it would undoubtedly become widespread and to specify positive clan associations to the exclusion of all others would be foolhardy. However, within the clan lands, certain races of 'gows' or smiths, found an almost hereditary niche amongst certain kindreds, and it is their descendants who have an 'official' clan connection. Traditionally, the Gows are associated with the Mackintoshs and MacPhersons Clan Chattan, and are said to be descendants of a smith of Perth who aided them at the 'trial by combat' on the North Inch in 1396, therafter returning with them to Badenoch. Others have a distinct association with Clan Donald. It will thus be obvious that one's ancestors would have required to have come from areas dominated by these clans and the association with Clan Chattan is therefore only true if one's ancestors originated in Badenoch, or the surrounding area, while ancestral origins on or near the western seaboard would more probably indicate a link with Clan Donald. Outwith these areas, association with other clans is also possible, and such would be determined by whatever clan dominated the area inhabited by one's ancestors. A genealogical trace, or an established geographical area of ancestral origin would be required to remove doubt where loyalties should lie. Loyalty should not be declared to more than one Clan Chief and when such is identified the CREST BADGE, MOTTO, TARTANS etc, pertaining to that clan may safely be adopted.
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