Originally from Galloway, the MacDowall clan are traditionally said to be descended from Doval of Galloway, a legendary warrior from the year 230 BC.
While this story is likely a myth, it is certain that the clan’s origins do indeed lie in the southwest of Scotland, where their ancestors were directly related to the Lords of Galloway. Maintaining a strong connection to the MacDougall clan, they would eventually form their own family, as Dougal and Fergus M’douall appeared on the infamous ‘Ragman Roll’ of 1296. Continuing to make their way in the world of Scottish nobility, Dougal’s grandson, Fergus, third of Garthland, would gain the role of sheriff depute of Kirkcudbright while his own grandson would fight against the English at the Battle of Homildon in 1401.
Following this initial growth, the clan would gain a level of stability during the 15th century, as they eventually married into the Gordon family, one of Scotland’s most important clans. Sadly, this stability would end at the beginning of the 1500s, as the ninth, tenth and eleventh lairds of Garthland were all killed at battle. Luckily, the chiefly line of the family would remain as the estates were passed to Uchtred, the twelfth Laird, before he would also become involved in controversy, as he was implicated in the Raid of Ruthven in 1582 when a group of protestant nobles kidnapped the young King, James VI.
The twelfth laird would be succeeded by his son, Uchtred Macdowall of Mondurk, who would also be involved in treason as he forfeited his estates. Luckily though, the family would be allowed to regain their lost lands and titles in the ensuing years and they would then stay out of controversy, instead deciding to focus on life within parliament, as the sixteenth and seventeenth lairds both spent time as MP for Wigtownshire, with one of the seventeenth laird’s grandsons becoming the Lord Provost of Glasgow.
Subsequent MacDowall clan chiefs would spend time involved in politics and law before the family eventually sold their lands at Garthland and emigrated to Canada during the 19th century. The current clan chief, Fergus MacDowall of Garthland, still lives in Canada but supports clan events in Scotland. He has even reacquired some of the clan’s lost lands in the southwest, as well as retaining the clan’s ownership of their current clan seat, Barr Castle in Lochwinnoch.