Recorded in the spellings of MacGowan, McGowan, and McGavin, and in Ireland usually as O'Gavin and O'Gaven, this is a Gaelic surname although one possibly of 12th century Crusader origins. It derives either from the Mac Gobhann in Scotland and Mac (or O') Gabhann in Ireland, both being patronymics from occupational bynames meaning "iron worker", or in all cases they may be from the Gaelic Mac Owein, itself a patronymic from the given name Owen or Ewan. These both originate from the Greek Eugenios meaning well-born or noble, and in that respect are associated with the knights of St John (The Crusaders) who attempted to free the Holy Land for several centuries. Examples of the recordings include random recordings such as those of Father Cormac O'Gavine, who died in France in 1617, John McGowen who married Marian Wilson in Edinburgh on July 21st 1636, whilst John MacGawan married Mary Smith on July 2nd 1704 at St. James church, Clerkenwell, and James McGowan was christened at St. Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street, city of London on September 23rd 1750. Bridget McGavin was a passenger on the ship "Adam-Carr" of Glasgow" which left that city bound for New York, on June 23rd 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere may be that of Walter O'Gawane of Clonmel, Ireland, in the year 1428. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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