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John MacDowell

Also Known As: "MacDowall"
Birthplace: Galloway, Scotland
Death: Died in Gleno, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Place of Burial: Glenoe, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of Uchtred MacDowall of Garthland and Margaret Kennedy of Girvanmains
Husband of Mary McDowell
Father of Thomas McDowell; Alexander McDowell and Isabella Halliday
Brother of Uchtred MacDowall of Garthland; Cathrine MacDowall of Garthland and Thomas MacDowall
Half brother of Margaret MacDowall of Garthland and Janet Hay

Managed by: Randy Lee Weisz
Last Updated:

About John MacDowell

Leo MacDowell writes:

Ulster Kith and Kin

County Antrim Cottage King William III (of Orange) at the Boyne River

                     Home in Ulster                                                   King William III (of Orange) at the Battle of the Boyne

Burke's "Peerages of Ireland" tells us there were four McDowells and two Knox's deported en masse to Ulster from Galloway in Scotland, as what he calls "Undertakers", men who were heads or commanders of a castle, supplying two hundred men for military service, besides tillers of soil, tradesmen for all other needs for the colony. Among these was a colony of McDowells who claim to be direct descendents in line from Duncan McDowell.

What Our Early American Kin Said...

Below is a variation of the story passed down through Joseph McDowell of Kentucky (b. 1799, an early descendant of Ephraim McDowell of Virginia). His was recorded by his niece Mary Kyle McDowell, a Protestant Nun and genealogist in the mid to late 1800's:

"The McDowells and Irvines, who were intermarried, embraced the Covenant and were persecuted during the reign of King Charles I. They placed themselves under Archibald (Campbell), 8th Earl  of Argyll, and fought under the Duke of Cumberland"...

(Note: I believe this latter part to be misspoken, it should read " the Duke of Hamilton" (vice "Duke of Cumberland").

"...and made a brave resistance, but being defeated by James Graham, Earl of Montrose, on 2 February 1645, in the battle of Inverlochy, and in several later engagements. "They left Scotland by 1655, and took refuge in the county of Derry, province of Ulster, in the north of Ireland. They remained in Ireland through 1689, when being attacked by the Irish natives, they sustained the memorable siege of Londonderry, when one of his grandsons was killed."

Another account found in early correspondence relating to Mary Kyle McDowell's work, states that the County Antrim McDowells left Scotland in 1584 for Ulster, which (perhaps not so coincidentally) corresponds to the very same year that Uchtred Macdowall, 10th of Garthland, had his summons deleted by the royal warrant (19 August 1584) for his part in the Ruthven Raid affair. Although family chroniclers have stated that Uchtred had sought sanctuary in France before his pardon, it has been well-documented that the phrase "exiled to France" during these times often simply meant "left the Isle of Britain". Perhaps entries in the more than six-hundred year old book at Fair Hill, near Larne (described below in the The Irvines and Their Kin by L. Boyd) may shed more light on when the McDowells (close kin to the Irvines) actually arrived to settle in County Antrim and under what circumstances. Also note below in this same segment that the Irvines (kin and fellow Covenanters from Scotland) are credited with building their home in Gleno, County Antrim in 1585.

What Our Ulster Kin Said...

    Mary Semple of Mounthill, near Larne in County Antrim, Ulster (an Irish Genealogist from the early 1900's), wrote about the McDowell and associated families in County Antrim. Mary research and presented extensive genealogies on the Blair, Irvines, Knox, and Lyle families as well - families which  bare close ties of kinship to the McDowells in Ulster, Canada, and America. It is my personal assessment that her genealogies were meticulously researched and are verifiable through multiple sources in Scotland and Ulster, as well as by my own research during the present time. I have yet to find an instance of error in her works through cross-referencing the various family genealogies and by my research methods and the increased availability of source materials. The research of Mary Semple was done via family bibles, passed down by word of mouth from living relatives or other written documentation, and/or alternatively through church records.
    It should also be noted that Mary Semple had access to the church records of the Presbyterian Church in Raloo near Larne, civil records, as well as, the Raloo Presbyterian Church graveyard where many of the McDowells and related families are buried, including Margaret Irvine McDowell (d. 1728) - the wife of Ephraim McDowell of VIrginia.
    It is important to note that some of the oldest McDowell graves present in  the Raloo churchyard bear on their headstones the family coat-of-arms and attributed mottos of  the  Macdowalls of Garthland. Thus, support Mary Semple's claim that the McDowells of Gleno, Raloo Parish, County Antrim, Ulster descend from that particular branch of the family. Many of the other related families also displayed coats-of-arms on their headstones as well.
I have made no attempt to change anything contained in her work (or the continuation work by David McDowell which follows) but have added items in parenthesis for the sake of clarification and/or continuity. Having said this, what follows is Mary Semple's account:


    The name was originally McDougall, and was later changed to McDowall and still later, in Ireland, changed to McDowell. The family crest bears the inscription, 'Fortis in Arduis' and one of their earliest charter speaks of the family origins as lost in antiquity. The McDowells, Lairds of Garthland, were in the first centuries styled as Princes of Galloway, by allowances of the then Kings of Scotland and their first residence in Galloway was Estholm, Parish of Penwick, Wigtonshire.
    It is stated that they supported King Edward the 1st of England, from which their property arose.  Donald McDowell was a leader in battle  where he was slain in 1238. His son - Dougall McDowell of Garthland Castle had a charter from Baliol in 1295.
    Dougall, son of the above (Dougall). In 1362 Fergus, son of Dougall, was Sheriff Deputy of Galloway. Their son, Thomas, married a daughter of Wallace of Craigie and had a charter from Earl Douglas in 1413 and was witness to a charter of Andrew Agnew of Loughmaw, first hereditary Sheriff of Galloway. In 1426 his daughter married Andrew Agnew of Galloway.
    Uchtred succeeded in 1440 and married a daughter of Robert Vauss (Vans) of Barnburrock. Their son, Thomas, in 1470 married a daughter of Frazer of Saltoun, ancestor of Lord Saltoun. His son, Uchtred, succeeded in 1488 and married Isabella, daughter of Sir John Gordon of Lochinfar.  He was killed, as was also his eldest son, in the Battle of Flodden, 1513. His son, Thomas, married Isabella, daughter of Alexander Stewart.  He was also killed at Flodden (Field) in 1513.
    Uchtred succeeded his grandfather in 1513 and married his cousin Marion, daughter of Sir Alexander Stewart of Corswall. Their son, John succeeded in 1531 and married Margaret, daughter and heiress of John Campbell.  He was killed at Pinkie in 1547. His son, Uchtred married Margaret, daughter of Sir Hugh Kennedy and their seventh son, John McDowell came to Gleno, parish of Raloo near Larne, Ireland in (by?) 1595 as a political exile where he married Mary Wylie. Their (grand?)son Thomas married Ann Locke.

Their son Ephriam married his cousin Margaret Irvine.

    The above Ephriam McDowell married Margaret Irvine who died, left Gleno with two of his sons, two daughters and three brothers-in-law for America.  They sailed from Larne in a sailing ship called the 'George and Ann' on May 29 1731.  After a short stay in Pittsburgh, Pa., they settled in Virginia. He was a lad of 16 when he was pressed to the siege of Londonderry.  He went with King William to the Battle of the Boyne and shod the King's white horse the night before the battle.  He had been learning to be a blacksmith with his father.  The house where he lived and the shop where he wrought are still to be seen in the lovely village of Gleno.  (Note: Since Mary Semple's writing, Gleno has had major changes.)
    All the (then present) McDowells of Raloo are descended from him through his eldest son Thomas who remained in Gleno.  His brother-in-law Alexander Irvine was one of the 'Apprentice Boys' who closed the gates of Derry in the face of King James' Army.
    Ephriam was one (of the sons) who went with him to America. Although an old man at the time of the Revolutionary War, (He) was among the first to raise the sword of freedom for the Colonies.

Their (Ephriam & Margaret Irvine McDowell's) son Thomas married Janet Reid.

Their son Ephriam married Margaret Craig.

Their son Thomas married Jane Drummond*.

(Note: The Author of this Family History was Mary Semple of Mounthill, near Larne, Co Antrim, N. Ireland and was compiled and researched by her in 1927. It was brought further up to date by David McDowell, Chatham, Ontario, Canada in 1980.)

David McDowell's 1980 continuation of Mary Semple's FAMILY HISTORY OF THE McDOWELLS OF WIGTONSHIRE, SCOTLAND; CO ANTRIM, IRELAND (1927)...

(Their son Thomas married Jane Drummond*)...

They had two sons - Nathaniel and John. Nathaniel married Martha Lyle. John married Peggy Crawford daughter of John Crawford and Annie Lyle. She was one of 10 sisters all married.

John and Peggy had a large family - three of whom emigrated. John and Crawford to the US and Nathaniel to Canada. Mary Anne** remained in the old home at Altelevelly, Parish of Raloo.

Nathaniel settled in the township of Zone, County of Kent, Ontario, Canada where he married Annie Bentley. They had 2 sons - John Bentley and Christopher. Christopher died early in life.

John Bently married Annie Elliott of Florence Ontario. Their children were Hiram, Grace, Olive, Maurice and Irene.

Peggy Crawford one of the 10 sisters had a sister Annie who married Matthew Magill.

Their son James married Mary Drummond.

Their daughter Agnes married Patrick Gingles of Kilwaughter. They had 11 children.

Patrick married Annie Jane Gingles.

John emigrated to Canada and was killed in action in France 1917.

Thomas married Lily Nelson and remained in the old home at Kilwaughter.

William James emigrated to Canada and married Dagney Neilsen - both resided in Winnipeg.

Arthur remained in Larne and married Jean Carr.

Mary married Robert Hall.

Agnes married William McIlroy.

Isabella married Thomas McDowell of Altelevelly son of Nathaniel and Jeannie Lyle.

Emily married James Wilson.

Annie married Thomas Hugh Gingles.

Margaret died in her teens.

Nathaniel McDowell who married Martha Lyle had a son Thomas who married Sarah Drummond.

They had 3 children:

David emigrated to Canada.

Jeannie married Robert Craig of Ballyrickard, Raloo.

Nathaniel married Jeannie Lyle.

They had 8 children:

Thomas the eldest married Isabella Gingles, daughter of the above, Patrick Gingles.

Matilda remained unmarried.

David married Clara Clark and lived in Belfast all his married life.

John Robert married Matilda McWilliams of Mounthill and they emigrated to Australia in 1913 and lived near the city of Melbourne, State of Victoria. They had 3 children - Matilda, Mollie and Wilma.

Nathaniel married Annie English.

Josiah Lyle emigrated to Canada in 1913 and remained unmarried.

Hessie married Hugh Crawford and resided in Gleno.

Sarah married Alfred Rock of Kilwaughter.

When Thomas McDowell married Isabella Gingles he remained in the old home of the McDowells at Altelevelly. His father Nathaniel McDowell and his wife Jennie Lyle and family moved to a new holding at Crosshill, Raloo. Thomas McDowell and Isabella Gingles had nine children: Nathaniel (my father born 1904 decd 1953) Agnes Jane (called Sis - decd) John Robert (born 1908 decd 1987) Thomas Patrick, David (decd 1999) Sarah Annie (decd) William James Margaret and Arthur.

Thomas Patrick emigrated to Alberta in 1928 - did not marry.

David emigrated to Thamesville Ontario also in 1928 later moved to Chatham with 2 children.

John McDowell and Nathaniel McDowell (sons of the above Thomas McDowell and Jane Drummond*) lived their married life at Altelevelly under one roof in adjoining houses. This arrangement continued through the generations until Thomas McDowell married Isabella Gingles when the above Mary Anne's** death (occurred) they bought out her property and adjoining farm.

(THE END of David McDowell's 1980 continuance.)

The McDowell and Irvine Families...

The Irvines and Their Kin by L. Boyd

    "There is no district in all of Ireland so rich in armorial bearings as the neighborhood of Lame. The churchyards of Carncastle, Glynn, and Raloo abound with them. The churchyard of Raloo is over-grown with long grass and weeds, so as to be almost inaccessible. But one may pull aside obstructions and remove lichens from the tall gray tombstones; trace the arms carved upon them, and read the names of the Craigs, McDowells, Crawfords, Boyds, and others."
    "There is an old book, more than six hundred years old (I was told), that I found at Fair Hill, near Larne. It had belonged to successive sextons for hundreds of years, from the dates it contained, the last one being 1775, and giving a description of the flag adopted by the American Colonies. It is written in longhand, and has pen-pictures of the Coats of Arms of the Carlisles, Earls of Kilmarnock, McDowells, Irvines, Johnstons, Crawfords, and Blairs, and many others not connected with this history. In the beginning of the book this appears, written in a clerkly hand:  "Nobilitatis virtus non stemma"    -   "Virtue, not pedigree, is the mark of nobility”
    "Says this same old chronicle: "A son, who was named James, was born to Christopher Irvine, shortly after he fell at Flodden Field. He had two sons, Robert and John, who fled to Ireland in time of the English persecution, and settled at Glenoe. John afterwards removed to Cushandall and became a Presbyterian minister. John Irvine had two sons, one named Abraham, the other Robert, who went to America, and Robert Irvine Sr., had sons who went to America."
    "Robert Irvine built a house, in 1585, of red limestone, roofed in by slate. It stands just outside of the village of Glenoe. Passing down the one long street of that village, bordered on each side by tall stone houses, once the property of the Irvines and McDowells, one is struck by the good repair in which they remain, after withstanding the storms of centuries. The blacksmith-shop of Ephraim McDowell looks as if he had laid his hammer down but yesterday, and gone with his brothers-in-law, Alexander Irvine (not his brother-in-law then, as Ephraim was a mere lad, as was Alexander Irvine also), to Londonderry to fight for "The Faith" behind the weak walk, in time of the famous siege."
   " I followed the narrow, rocky street until I came to the mills, once belonging to the Irvines, Wylies, and McDowells. The mill-wheels are still now, and moss and rust-covered, and the mills are open to the night-birds, and afford homes for tramps, who sometimes seek lodging in that picturesque spot." (From "The Irvines and Their Kin" by L. Boyd).

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John MacDowell's Timeline

Galloway, Scotland
Age 20
Glenoe, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Age 32
Age 56
Gleno, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Age 56
Age 56
Glenoe, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland