Macdowyls / Macdowalls / Macdowells / Macdouals etc. descend from Duegald
the grandson of "Prince" Fergus, Lord of Galloway d. 1164 and are recognized
as the Clan MacDowall
by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. In 1987 the Clan Chief
designated the proper spelling of the clan name as MacDowall with the letter
"D" capitalized, though the small letter “d” is used in many of its family
Professor Fergus D. H.
Macdowall of Garthland is Chief of the Name and Arms of MacDowall. He
retains the site of Garthland Castle (1211-1811) at Garthland Mains near
Stranraer, Wigtownshire, Scotland and the substitute estate of Garthland
with seat at Barr Castle near Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, Scotland. He is an
Honorary President of the Clan MacDougall Society of North America which is
comprised of Clan MacDowall and also the Clan MacDougall.
Names and Spellings
Through the centuries
the migrations of family members led to many spelling variations of the
ancient family name. Clan MacDowall names are now spelled in as many as 76
Nowadays the Clan MacDowall names and spellings with or without the Mac,
Mc, or M' prefix include McDowell, MacDowel, Macdowal, MacDowyl, McDuyl,
Macdoual, McDouall, M'Douall, MacDool, McDoll, Makdougal, Macdougal(l) with
the small “d” (the ancient name of the MacDowalls), etc. Other names within
the MacDowalls include Dowall, Dugal, Dugle, Duwall, Duvall, M'Gowall, Wall,
Wahl etc. and also Doyle, and O'Dowill. The Britonic Kyles with Coull,
McCoul, Coyle, Cole, and Dole are accepted territorially. However these and
many other name spellings are all considered part of the Clan MacDowall
though some of these names also do occur in other clans and in unrelated
families as well.
The spellings of
Macdowall with a capital "D" and also with a letter "e" as in "MacDowell /
McDowel / Dowel" were variations which became common in Ireland. Many of
these families had emigrated earlier from Galloway across the water to
nearby Ireland but still more settled there during the Plantations of Ulster
in the early 1600's. Decades or centuries later many of these families and
other variant surnames emigrated again from Ireland onwards to North America
and to other parts of the world. As a result many clan members now living in
the United States and other countries have this capital "D" and "e" name
spelling. However many of the original small “d” name spellings remain as
well other name variations which have evolved from them.
In the Middle Ages
the ancestors of our family were Norse and Celtic rulers of Galloway, a
territory which is now south west Scotland. The direct ancestral founder of
our family was Duegald k. 1185 who was part of the ruling feudal family in
Galloway. Since he was the second son, his own descendants became a branch
(called a cadet) of that ruling family. We descend from that cadet.
History indicates that
Gille, the native Dalriadic Governor of the Western Isles under Norse
suzerainty about the year 1000, was the great grandfather in the male line
of “Prince” Fergus Lord of Galloway. About 1124 Fergus married Elizabeth, a
daughter of King Henry I of England and he assumed the powerful Lordship of
Galloway ruling a land coveted by both Scotland and England. "Prince" Fergus
was made the first feudal Lord of Galloway by King David I of Scotland.
Fergus’ elder son Uchtred became the second feudal Lord of Galloway.
Uchtred’s second son was
named Duegald. He is mentioned in the Melrose Chronicle as having been
killed in a battle in 1185. This happened while he was fighting in support
of his older brother Roland during a feudal reconquest of Galloway. Duegald
was the eponymous founder of the cadet family whose descendants have become
In the century after
Duegald's death his cadet family was called “Macdougall in Galloway”. These
descendants spelt their name with a small letter "d". Their name came from
adding the Gaelic prefix "Mac" meaning "son of" in front of his name. They
have no proven relation to the MacDougalls of Argyll though their shared
original Gaelic name of "Mac dou gall" meaning "son of the Black Stranger"
suggests that both have a Norse heritage. The name "Black Foreigner" or
"Black Stranger" was the early Gaelic term or nickname for a Dane, later
extended to other Norsemen. By Duegald's time it applied more generally to
persons of Norse descent.
Duegald’s cadet branch
of the House of Galloway was patronymically written as “Macdougall” until
1292-6, after which time it appeared as “Macdowyl” and “Macdowall”. In
Galloway both were phonetically pronounced as “mock-dool” which led to later
spelling variations such as “Macdouall” and “McDool” “McDuyl” etc.
The signing of the oath
of fealty known as the Ragman Roll was required of the Scottish nobility by
King Edward I of England. On 7 July 1292 two of Duegald’s lineal successors
and cadet family members affixed their seals and names on the “Ragman Roll”
of fealty. Here their name was not spelled as “Macdougall” as it had been
for the previous century but was now changed to a modified form which
distinguished it from the Highland clan MacDougall of Argyll. At this time
Dougal Macdougall of Gairachloyne (later knighted Sir Dougal) and his
younger brother Fergus had their surnames recorded on the Roll as “Macdowyl”
The spelling of the
traditional “Macdougall” portion of the cadet family name was thereby
modified when the letters "ug" were changed to "w" (i.e. "uu" pronounced
"oo") in a Norman transliteration introduced under King Edward I of England.
These two changes had modified their name spelling to align more closely
with its Galloway phonetic pronunciation of “mock-dool”.
During the Wars of
Independence this Sir Dougal and his heirs of two more generations led the
defending forces of Galloway in the name of the Baliol Crown of Scotland for
fifty years after King Robert I (Bruce) invaded Galloway in 1306. The family
suffered greatly at the hands of the Bruce brothers. They were, however,
comrades in battle and English captivity with King Robert I’s heir king
David II in 1347.
Sir Dougal’s fourth
grandson, Sir Fergus MacDowyl (or Macdowall) of Makerstoun and of Garthland,
circa 1370 founded the Makerston cadet family on the property called
Makerstoun which he had inherited from his mother. It was located outside of
Galloway, being in south east Scotland near Kelso in the Borders in
Roxburghshire an area then known as Teviotdale. Serving under the new Lords
of Galloway Sir Fergus regained family properties and re-established the
prestige of the Macdowall family in Galloway. In a long distinguished career
he fought the English until he was wounded and captured in 1402 at the
disastrous battle of Homildon Hill, and was later ransomed.
His Makerston cadet
carried on for centuries afterwards using the original
name of "Macdougal(l)" and later on spelling it as “Makdougal(l)" when use
of the “k” in names became a spelling fashion - but all the while retaining
and using the small letter "d”. The Makerston cadet family was not related
to the Highland clan MacDougall of Argyll.
For centuries afterwards
the Macdowyls / Macdowalls / Macdowells / Macdouals were important in
Galloway but not as rulers of it. Uchtred Macdowall of Garthland and his
heir Thomas, together with Charles McDouall of Logan, Gilbert Macdowall of
Freugh and most male relations, were killed with JAMES IV of Scotland in the
Scots defeat at the battle of Flodden in 1513. John Macdowall of Garthland
and Corswall and Fergus McDouall of Freugh were killed at the battle of
Pinkie in 1547.
The family history has
now continued for over eight centuries during which many clan members have
emigrated from Galloway but some still remain in their ancestral homeland.
Branches and Extended
The early armigerous
baronial stock of the MacDowalls on surviving records starts from the
Macdougalls of Garochloyne with Lougan-Elrig and continues through a century
to the Macdowylls / Macdowalls of these lands and also of Garthland.
McDoualls of Logan and Macdowalls of Freugh then appear separately, but
Macdowall or Macdougal of Makerstoun preceded Garthland in Makerstoun
inheritance. Those of Machrimore (Machermore) developed later but soon lost
Younger sons who formed
cadet lines or stirps from these families inherited or were granted or
purchased lands, often castellated. Those stirps from Garthland on record
included Elrig, Spotts, Barjarg, Kildonand, Inch, Mindork, Myroch,
Knockglass, Dalreagle, Lefnall, Corochtrie, Killaser, Crockuncrush,
Castlesemple, Kirriebroom, Woolmet, Walkinshaw and Arndilly. Each contained
tenant farms and lands. Scions of Logan included Ardwell, Ringseat and
Culgroat; and those of Freugh had Longcastle, Hackburn, and Stratford Hall.
A sequence of Swedish baronies stemmed from the family in Makerstoun.
Coat of Arms of the
The private Coat of Arms
of the Chief is that of Garthland augmented with the crest-coronet to
on the shield are the blue field on which a silver (white) lion rampant
is crowned with a “ducal coronet”. These are the plain arms of Galloway
used by the ancient Lordship and in the provincial arms. They also
comprise the Chief’s rectangular Banner.
The supporters or
bearers of the shield are rampant lions gorged (about the neck) with an
antique (pointed) crown. These bearers are appropriate for use on their
surcoat by MacDowall clansmen.
The Compartment on
which the supporters stand is rock with waves of the sea around the base
and sprigs of the Oak PLANT BADGE.
Only the Chief is
permitted to use this private Coat of Arms of the Chief and the Chief’s
Standard described below.
The Chief's Standard
The Chief’s 12 foot long
Standard has the St. Andrew’s Cross in the hoist (next to the flagstaff)
followed by 3 Crests alternating with 3 gold slashes bearing one each of the
words of the Motto “VINCERE VEL MORI”
The White Pinsel
The white Pinsel
(triangular flag) is centered by the Crest surrounded by the belt and buckle
bearing the Motto “VINCERE VEL MORI”, within a green circlet labeled
Garthland. This is specifically carried by the Clan Tosheador (Commander
abroad), currently Dr. Walter M. Macdougall, Past President Clan MacDougall
Society of North America.
The Clansman's Crest
The clansman’s Crest
Badge, as a pin for cap or clothing, is the Chief’s Crest-Coronet encircled
by the belt and buckle with the Motto “VINCERE VEL MORI”.
The Chapeau or “Cap
of Maintenance” in the Crest Badge represents the feudal barony and it
is blue velvet lined with ermine, the blue indicating interrupted
ownership, unlike the MacDougall red chapeau-coronet.
The Chief's Eagle
Chief may also wear three golden eagle feathers in his cap.
Clansmen may officially wear any of the following four tartans: MacDowall (Macdowall),
MacDowall - Galloway Hunting; Hunting Stewart, or Galloway Hunting, and
The tartan of "Clan
MacDowall" is represented on the book cover of the "The MacDowalls"
published in June 2009.
This modern tartan was designed over a
seven year period by the Chief through alterations in the sett of
Hunting Stewart tartan, for the Stewart Lords of Galloway, and the
symbolic use of tinctures from his plain Arms of ancient Galloway.
The central device, the silver (white)
lion rampant, is represented in the tartan labels by a white square
which is crossed by the yellow overstripe as the gold crown. The lion
romps in a blue field indicative of the Irish Sea around the Rhinns of
Galloway where the original families were based. Their family seats and
the oak badge are represented by the crossing green bands, with the
white overstripe to symbolize the widespread family Diaspora.
The new clan tartan was registered by the
Scottish Tartans Authority on November 12, 2007 and it is before the
Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland to be recorded in the Court Books.
The new clan tartan, as well as many of its symbols and crest-badges,
may be viewed in the Graphics page of the Heritage Section of the Clan
MacDougall Society of North America web site at
"VINCERE VEL MORI" (Conquer or Die)
Clan Plant Badge:
Sprig of Oak Leaves.
Sources of Further Information
Concerning Clan MacDowall
An 8-page color booklet in PDF format,
Clan of the MacDowalls of Galloway"
is available for
download in the Heritage Section of the Clan MacDougall Society of North
America web site at
The Book Section in the Heritage Section of
this web site at lists books about clan MacDowall at
The newest book
published in June 2009 is
by Fergus D. H. Macdowall Editor-in-Chief.
The 182 page book is
well written and interesting to read because it has such a variety of
topics. This is perhaps the first book ever to attempt to give a broad
overview of the MacDowalls and some of their accomplishments over the past
800 years. The Chapters include the ancient history in Galloway, the
Macdougalls of Makerston cadet, castles and abbeys and other structures
relating to the Macdowalls in Galloway, emigration and settlement of North
America, prominent MacDowalls in North American history, and emigrations of
families to the Netherlands, Sweden and Russia. This book uses of the new
MacDowall Tartan as its book cover pattern.
Fergus D. H. Macdowall Chief of the Name has directed that all profits from
the sale of this book are to be held in trust to be used for promoting the
heritage of the MacDowalls. The MacDowalls may be purchased through the
Clan MacDougall Society of North America web site e-store
soft cover price is US $19.00 plus shipping. The book is also available in
eBook format from
Local bookstores can order it but might ask for the ISBN 978-0-578-02679-4.
Major outlets such as amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com may offer it at their