Recorded in many forms including MacDowall, MacDowell, McDowell, MacDowal, MacDoual, McDugald, McDougal, McDuall, McDill, McDool, and McCool, this is a surname of Scottish origins, which is also well recorded in Ireland. It is a development of the pre 10th century Old Gaelic "MacDubhghaill" from the male given name "Dubhghall", composed of the elements "dubh", meaning black or dark, and "gall", a stranger. It is said that this was frequently used as a nickname for Scandinavian-Viikings, and in particular to distinguish the darker-haired Danes from fair-haired Norwegians.The clan are descended from Dugall, the eldest son of Somerled of the Isles, a family described by the late Dr. Alexander Carmichael as "one of the most unobtrusive and honoured families in Scotland". Early recordings of the surname include: Robert M'Kowele, lord of Karsnelohe, in Ayrshire in 1370; and Fergus Macdowylle of Roxburghshire in 1374. Seemingly not all members of the clan were "unobtrusive" as brothers John and Michael McDill were "respited" for murder in 1526, although their fate is not known. They were followers of the famous earl of Cassilis, who was making an unsuccessful bid for the throne of Scotland. Other recordings include Ewin M'Dougall of Dunaverty, Argyllshire, in 1647, Francis Thomas McDougall, the archdeacon of the Isle of Wight, England in 1874, and Sir Patrick Leonard MacDoughall (1819 - 1894), a distinguished general in the British Army. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Duncan MacKowle, the founder of the Priory of Ardchattan. This was dated 1230, in the "Medieval Records of Argyllshire", during the reign of Alexander 11, King of Scotland, 1214 - 1249.
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