The Dow Family
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.


On the left is the Irish Dowd Crest. On the right is the Dow Scottish Crest.


The Clan Dow originated in Ireland, as Dowd. Dow (Scottish) means one with dark complexion or black hair (Smith, Elsdon C. New Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Gramercy Publishing Company, 1988).


In Fairbairn's Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland there are only two Dow families shown (both from Scotland). They are described as:

A dove , argent OR A dove, proper with "Patience" as their motto. When blazoned proper it is quite correct to make the legs and feet of the naturally pink color, but more often they are gules. In the same book, The Irish Dowds has a dove, gules. The crest shown above is from another branch of Dowds.

So I think it is safe to say that Dow and Dowd have some connection. The original Irish name was O'Dubhda. The Dowds were one of the UiFiachrach, a large tribal group orginating with Fiachra, brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages, a fifth (5th) century monarch, who was said to have kidnapped St. Patrick and brought him to Ireland. The O'Dowds were powerful in north-west Mayo and west Sligo. The Duffys were in Donegal, Roscommon, and Monaghan (Grenham, John. The Little Book of Irish Clans. New York: Chartwell Books, Inc., 1994).

***Note that I have no idea, which crest might be my branch of this family. More genealogy records need to be explored on this. I merely set these here for possibilities. NOT ALL DOWS can legally claim these crests. Only those who have been granted these crests/coats of arms can claim ownership. Only CLAN BADGES can be used by more than one family of the same name.


Dow is also said to be a variant of Duff, and is common in Aberdeenshire. Dow, Dowe are associated with Dove which comes from the Gallic adjective duhb meaning "black" and pronounced like the Scottish "doo"; also can mean pigeon. The name is also thought to be the Anglicizing of MacCalma or a varient of Daw, a diminutive of David. Ede Douw held land in vicoboreali in Edinburgh in 1366 (Passelet. Registrum monasterii de Passalet 1877, 1, 261 and Sancti Egidii de Edinburgh. Registrum cantarum ecclesie, 1344-1567. Edinburgh,1959, 19). The dove A George Dow appears in the Home Manuscripts in 1479 (p. 13). Dow is not uncommon in Perthshire. A Robert Dow held land in Perth in 1497 (Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1999).


Dow has an association to both the Davidsons and Buchanans, of the Clan Chattan (Martine, Roddy. Scottish Clan and Family Names: Their Arms, Origins, and Tartans. Edinburgh & London: Mainstream Publishing Co., Ltd., 1996).

Motto: Clarior hinc honos (Brighter, hence the honor)

  • Buchanan is a name derived from the district of Buchan which comprises the NE part of Aberdeenshire and part of Banffshire. The district takes its name from burh, the Brythonic word for "cow." The Comyns were the earls of Buchan. Buchan was later conferred upon Alexander Steward, son of Robert II. "The progenitor of the clan was Auslan or Anselan, son of the King of Ulster, who came to Argyll in 1016 and received from King Malcolm II the lands of Buchanan which lie on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. The name MacAuslan is synonymous with Buchanan (MacKinnon, Charles. Scottish Highlanders. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1984).

    The Buchans gained the land of Auchmacoy. The Barons of Auchmacoy were royalists and supported the Stuarts.

    Ricardus de Buchan was the clerk of the bishopric of Aberdeen and William be Buchanan was a local landowner. They were recorded as the first bearers of the surname, which was initially confined to the northeast of Scotland, where it is still common (Dorwood, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995).

    The clans war cry is "Clar Inis" since an island in Loch Lomond was received from the Earl of Lennox in 1225. The plant badge is the Bilberry Oak. The main line of the Buchanans of that Ilk became extinct in 1762 when the 22nd Chief of Clan Buchanan died.

  • Davidson is also called Clan Dhai of Badennoch. Clan Dhai was made up of those who were allied with the MacIntosh, the leading clan of the Clan Chattan confederacy. They held the chieftanship for 200-300 years. David, the founder of the Clan Dhai, existed before the fourteenth (14th) century and was the younger brother of the MacPhersons (Way, George (of Plean) and Romilly Squire. The Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1994.).

    Robert Davidson was provost of Aberdeen. He was killed in the battle of Harlaw in 1411. The present seat of the chief is Tulloch Castle, near Dingwall.



    Harry Dow married Helen Watt. Helen was christened November 5, 1765 in Kennethmont, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Helen and Harry applied to be married on November 8, 1765 in Kennethmont (Kinnethmont), Aberdeen, Scotland. They were married December 20, 1795 in the Parish of Drumblade, Kennethmont, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. (I was given this information by Anne Dow in Australia, and I hope to research them more soon to verify).