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MacDowall Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: VINCERE VEL MORI (To conquer or die)

Allow me to recount the fascinating history of your family, the Macdowells, hailing from the picturesque region of Galloway in the far southwest of Scotland. Your family’s roots stretch back to Galloway, a place known as the ‘land of the foreign Gaelic speakers,’ owing to Viking settlers who adopted the Gaelic language. Amidst colorful legends that surround the inception of the princedom of Galloway, its lords gained significant prominence during the reign of David I.

The lineage traces to Fergus of Galloway, who divided his principality among his sons, one of whom was named Dougal. Your family’s connection to Galloway continued as Balliol, Lord of Barnard Castle, married Dervogilla, daughter of the final native lord of Galloway, Alan. Their offspring, John, asserted his right to Galloway through his mother. In 1295, Balliol, as Lord of Galloway, granted Dougal a charter for the lands of Garthland. The following year, Dougal and Fergus M’douall pledged allegiance to Edward I, as recorded in the Ragman Roll.

The legacy continued through generations, with Fergus, third of Kirkudbright, serving as sheriff depute during David II’s rule. His grandson, Sir Fergus Macdowall, faced capture by the English at the Battle of Homildon in 1401. Uchtred, the ninth of Gartland, met his fate at the Battle of Flodden in 1513 alongside his son.

John, the eleventh Laird, met his end at the Battle of Pinkie Clough in 1547. His son was embroiled in the infamous Gowrie Conspiracy against the young James VI, which saw the king being kidnapped by protestant nobles. Though the involvement of the Laird of Gartland remains uncertain, he later sought a royal pardon and a new charter for his barony. The fourteenth Laird, Uchtred Macdowall of Mondurk, might have faced similar accusations and forfeited, but eventually assumed the role.

Two successive lairds contributed to the political landscape, representing Wigtownshire in the House of Commons. William Macdowall and his wife, Grizel Beaton, raised a family of fourteen children. Notably, their grandson, James Macdowall, ascended to the position of Lord Provost of Glasgow. The twenty-first laird left his mark as a lawyer and a Member of Parliament.

As time progressed, your family’s presence shifted. The twenty-eighth chief, a prominent legal figure, relocated to Canada at the turn of the twentieth century. Despite these changes, the lineage persevered, with your present chief, Fergus Macdowall of Garthland, standing as a testament to the enduring spirit and heritage of the Macdowells.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: VINCERE VEL MORI (To conquer or die)

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