Clan MacEwen

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Clan MacEwen
MacEoghainn (Son of Ewen)
File:Clan member crest badge - Clan MacEwen.svg
Motto Reviresco (I grow strong again)
Region Scottish Highlands
District Cowal, Galloway, Lennox and Perthshire
Clan MacEwen has no chief, and is an armigerous clan
Last Chief Swene McEwen
Died 1493
Commander John MacEwen (Clan Ewen), Thor Ewing (Clan Ewing)

Clan MacEwen, Clan MacEwan, or Clan Ewen, is a Highland Scottish clan recorded in the fifteenth century as Clan Ewen of Otter.

Historically, there have been several unrelated MacEwen clans and septs, leading to several distinct origins for the modern surname. Each of these historical clans could be described by the name, "Clan MacEwen". The modern clan does not yet have a chief recognized by Lord Lyon King of Arms, and as such is currently considered an Armigerous clan. However, as of 2016, Clans Ewen and Ewing have elected Commanders: Sir. John McEwen, 5th Baronet of Marchmont and Bardrochat has been named Commander of Clan MacEwen, while Clan Ewing has chosen Thor Ewing; both are line to become the first Chiefs since the death of Swene McEwen, in 1493.[1][2]

Historical MacEwen Clans and Septs

The name "MacEwen" means "son of Ewen," and could have arisen independently at different times throughout history. The spelling of the MacEwen name pre-dates widespread literacy and many variations can be found, including:

Clan Ewen of Otter

The MacEwen lords of Otter appear sporadically in fourteenth and fifteenth century records. The genealogy of the clan is recorded in MS 1467, now held by the National Library of Scotland. The last MacEwen of Otter was Swene Mac Ewen, on whose death in 1493 the barony passed into Campbell overlordship.

MacEwens in Galloway

There have been MacEwens in Galloway since 1331 (apparently before the first MacEwens of Otter), when one Patrick McEwyn was Provost of Wigtown.[3] According to tradition, these McEwens fought alongside the Agnews of Lochnaw against Black Archibald Douglas.[4]

MacEwens of MacDougall

Many MacEwens still preserve a tradition of descent from Clan MacDougall, and a MacEwen sept has been acknowledged by the MacDougall chiefs.[5] In particular, it is known that MacEwan of Muckley (the first armiger with the MacEwen name) was descended from Ewen Mor MacDougall, brother of the MacDougall of Lorne.[6] MacEwens in the area of Perthshire and Loch Tay were therefore considered to be a part of Clan MacDougall.[7]

MacEwens of Clan Cameron

During the sixteenth century, a group of Camerons were also known as 'Clan Ewyne'.[8] The leader of this clan was Donald Mac Ewen Vic Ewen Cameron of Erracht who was killed in 1570, and his followers took the MacEwen name. The Gaelic name for this sept is Sliochd Eoghain 'ic Eoghain. MacEwens who took part in the Moyness Raid of 1598 were members of this clan.

MacEwan bardic family

The MacEwan bardic family was a prominent learned kindred that practiced classical Gaelic poetry, recognized as one of the "families of the filidh." The family served the MacDougalls of Lorne, and later the Campbells of Argyll.[9][10] The MacEwans, like other prominent bardic families employed by Scottish lords, were likely of Irish origin.[11] Their use of the rare personal name Athairne suggests that they were a branch of the Irish O'Hosey (Ó hEoghusa) bardic family.[10][12] A branch of the MacEwan bardic family may have been the MacEwan family of harpers, recorded in the mid-sixteenth century.[10][13]

Dubious historical traditions

It is frequently stated that an Act of Parliament of 1602 lists MacEwens beside MacLachlans and McNeils, as vassals of the Earl of Argyll and answerable to him for their behaviour.[14] However, no such Act has yet been identified.[original research?]

It has been claimed that after Sween MacEwen's death, Clan Maclachlan offered MacEwens the right to join them and offer them a form of protectorate. To this day, the Clan Maclachlan will allow MacEwens to join them [1] However, there seems to be no evidence of this tradition before the late twentieth century.[original research?]

According to the 19th century historian James Logan, in General Wade's statement of the Highland forces engaged in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, the MacEwens of the Isle of Skye were recorded to have summoned 150 men.[15] It is possible that Logan misread a reference to 150 "McLeans in the Isle of Skye."[original research?]

Modern clan symbolism

File:MacEwan tartan (D. C. Stewart).png
The MacEwen tartan is very similar to the tartans of the Campbells.[16]
Crest badge

Many clansfolk today wear a crest badge to show allegiance to their particular clan. Crest badges usually consist of strap-and-buckle surrounding the clan chief's heraldic crest, with the chief's motto written within the strap. Since the clan revival of the early nineteenth century, many MacEwens have adopted the crest of a sprouting oak stump with the Latin motto REVIRESCO ("I grow green / verdant again").[17] This crest badge is not derived from the arms of a previous chief of the clan,[3] but appears to have been in use among the Galloway McEwens from an early date,[18] and may indicate ancestral connections with Clan Bissett which shares the same crest and motto. This crest and motto are recorded in the Arms of the McEwen Baronets (McEwen of Marchmont and Bardrochat).[3][14] These McEwens held lands in Bardrochat in Carrick.[3] The McEwen Baronets may not have any connection with Clan MacEwen of Otter.[3]


MacEwen tartan closely resembles Farquharson and MacLeod of Harris. The sett is similar to Campbell of Loudon tartan except that a red stripe is substituted for white.[16][19]

Current moves to appoint a chief

On 27 February 2012, the Lord Lyon announced his intention to appoint a Supervising Officer to oversee a future Family Convention or Derbhfine "for those of the [MacEwen] name, broadly defined . . . with a view to the recognition of a Commander."[20] On 11 October 2012, the Lord Lyon announced the appointment of the Honourable Adam Bruce, Marchmont Herald of Arms, as Supervising Officer for the Family Convention.[21]

As of 2016, Clans Ewen and Ewing have elected Commanders: Sir. John McEwen, 5th Baronet of Marchmont and Bardrochat has been named Commander of Clan MacEwen, while Clan Ewing has chosen Thor Ewing; both are line to become the first Chiefs since the death of Swene McEwen, in 1493.[1][2]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ewing, David Neal (Chancellor), "A Chief for Clan Ewen?" Ewing Family Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1 (February 2011).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ewen, Sir John, "What Is A MacEwen?" at Clan Ewen Society, UK (2014).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Iain (1967). The Highland Clans. London: Barrie & Rocklif. pp. 99–100.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Agnew, Sir Andrew (1893). The Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Lyon Register 1, 376
  7. Maclagan, Robert Craig, 1905, The Perth Incident of 1396, Edinburgh & London (Blackwood)
  9. Clancy, TO (2006). "Scottish Gaelic poetry [1] classical Gaelic". In Koch, JT. Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 1577. ISBN 1-85109-445-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Sanger, K; Kinnaird, A (1992). Tree of Strings: A History of the Harp in Scotland. Kinmor Music. p. 73. ISBN 0951120441.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Accessed via Google Books.
  11. MacInnes, John (1992). "The Scottish Gaelic Language". In Price, G. The Celtic Connection. The Princess Grace Irish Library, Vol. 6. Gerrods Cross: Colin Smythe. p. 112. ISBN 0-86140-248-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Accessed via Google Books.
  12. Campbell of Airds, A (2000). A History of Clan Campbell. Vol. 1, From Origins to Flodden. Edinburgh: Polygon at Edinburgh. pp. 7, 182–183. ISBN 1-902930-17-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Campbell of Airds, A (2000). A History of Clan Campbell. Vol. 1, From Origins to Flodden. Edinburgh: Polygon at Edinburgh. p. 183. ISBN 1-902930-17-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 "MacEwen". Archived from the original on 18 April 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Logan, James (1850). The Scotish Gaël (sic!) (5th American ed.). Hartford: Silas Andrus and Son. p. 77.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Tartan - MacEwen /MacEwan". Scottish Tartans World Register. Retrieved 4 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Way of Plean, George; Squire, Romilly (2000). Clans & Tartans. Glasgow: HarperCollins. p. 182. ISBN 0-00-472501-8. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. R. S. T. MacEwen, 1904, Clan Ewen: Some records of its history, p18
  19. Stewart, Donald Calder (1974). The Setts of the Scottish Tartans, with descriptive and historical notes (2nd revised ed.). London: Shepheard-Walwyn. p. 74. ISBN 0-85683-011-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links