Ewing Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Ewing Meaning
The Scottish McEwen genealogist has maintained that
“the name Ewen is a distinctive, ancient, and not very common name,
from the Gaelic Eoghan, meaning ‘kind
Ewing origins have
been debatable.
The Ewing clan website claimed a descent from Ewen of Otter who
lived at
Cnoc Mhic Eoghainn in Argyllshire in the 1300’s.
Ewen had become Ewyne and then Ewing by the 16th century. The ‘g’ in Ewing appears to have been an addition made in the spelling by those of
English speech
. This was
because in pronouncing the
name they give the final ‘n’ a
n ‘ng’ or nasal sound.

Ewing Resources on

Ewing Ancestry


While the origins of the Ewings may have been
disputed, their appearance by the late 15th century in the Scottish
Lowlands in
an area around Loch Lomond is not. Early
Ewynes there included merchants, burgesses and priests.
The Ewings of Balloch were so named because
they had purchased the lands of Balloch in Dumbartonshire in the

William Ewing rose to
prominence after he had been summoned to attend the court of Mary Queen
Scots in 1566. Whether he benefited from
the sponsorship of the Earl of Lennox is unclear. Some
accounts have claimed that William Ewing
carried the standard for the Queen at the Battle of Langsidein 1568. In any event he was soon granted a coat of
arms. Sometime later Findlay Ewing was
settled on an estate at Ladytoun near Bonhill in Dumbartonshire. The last of this line, the Ewings of
Craigtoun, died out in the 18th century.

Ewings were for the most part Presbyterian
Covenanters, which put them at odds with the Stuart monarchy for much
of the
17th century. Because of religious
persecution many Ewings departed for Ulster at this time (and later
to America). Ewings in Scotland supported the Campbells in the doomed
rebellion against King James in 1685 and some of their estates were

The Balloch line of Ewings
later included William
Leckie Ewing
, a prominent Glasgow merchant of the early/mid
and the Orr-Ewing baronets. The first of
these baronets built Ballikinrain castle in Dumbartonshire in 1868 as
his home.

Whether this history indicates that the
Ewings should be considered as their
Scottish clan
has been a matter of recent debate.

Ireland. The Ulster plantation
that began in the early 1600’s became a sanctuary for persecuted
Covenanters. The
Ewings who came there settled mainly in the environs of Coleraine in
Londonderry county. Others made their
home in Donegal, but within a ten mile radius of Londonderry – on Inch
and at Carnshanaugh. John Ewing was said
to have been at the siege of Londonderry in 1689.

The best known of these Ewings had come in
1685 after the Argyll rebellion had collapsed.
According to tradition, six Ewing brothers fled Scotland at that
time. One of them was named Findlay and
his son Thomas Ewing, born
in 1690,
departed Ulster for America in 1718.
Other Ewings followed him.

Ewing name did not disappear from Ulster, however.
John Ewing was a Belfast merchant trading with
Barbados and was one of four partners who started the Belfast Bank in
1787. Ewing’s, fishmongers of Belfast, has
going strong since the early 1900’s.

America. The first of these Scots
Irish Ewings to come
to America was Thomas Ewing who arrived in Southampton on Long Island
1718. Two years later he married
Maskell and they raised their children in Greenwich, New Jersey. Their descendants included:

  • George Ewing,
    whose military diary of the Revolutionary War covered his winter at
    Forge with Washington’s army
  • and his son Thomas Ewing, a country lawyer from Ohio who twice served as
    its Republican US Senator and held Cabinet posts in Washington before
    and after
    the Civil War. Thomas Ewing and his family were covered in
    Kenneth Heineman’s 2012 book Civil War Dynasty.

large Ewing contingent crossed the Atlantic from Ireland in 1727 on the
Eagle Wing, chartered by the Ewing family
(which included Nathaniel and other sons of William Ewing plus a cousin

and his wife Rachel settled in Cecil county, Maryland. One of their sons John was pastor of the
First Presbyterian church in Philadelphia from 1759 until his death in
1802. From another son William came John
Hoge Ewing, a civic leader in Washington county, Pennsylvania during
the 19th
century. James McMichael’s 1999 book Alexander Ewing and Descendants
meanwhile covered the line from Alexander Ewing.

Meanwhile old John Ewing,
present at the siege of Londonderry, came to Lancaster, county,
Pennsylvania in

“His sons had wanted to come to America, but
their father being around 80 years of age, felt that he could not
undertake the
journey and they remained with him. At
length he determined to detain them no longer and for their sake came
America, saying that his bones could rest in the ocean or the New World
as well
as in Ireland.”

James Ewing was a cotton merchant from Edinburgh
who came to Alabama in the 1840’s. He
died young, at the age of 46 in 1860, leaving a son Robert who was then
one year old. Robert began working at
the age of 13 as a messenger boy for Western Union.
He rose rapidly in work and became a prominent
newspaper journalist, publisher and political figure in the state of
Louisiana. His son John and grandson
Robert were both active in newspapers in the region.

Ewings in Canada could have been Loyalists from America
or crossed the ocean from Scotland or Ireland:

  • Benjamin Ewing from Vermont was
    one of the early settlers in 1798 in Haldimand township in the Niagara
    district of Ontario. His original Benlock
    homestead there
    was handed down to his grandson Charles.
  • James Miller Ewing from
    Dumbartonshire in Scotland
    came to St. Johns, Newfoundland sometime in the 1830’s
  • while Samuel
    H. Ewing arrived in Montreal from Londonderry in Ireland in the 1860’s.
    He was the founder of S.H. Ewing and
    Sons, a company
    active in the importation and manufacture of spices, teas, and coffees
    and also
    held banking interests. Samuel H. Ewing
    over the company until his death in 1923.


Ewing Miscellany

Ewing Origins.  Where did the Ewings come from?  The
answer was in the old, traditional
understanding of the name Ewing on which Elbert Ewing poured such scorn
in his
book Clan Ewing of Scotland in 1922.

The name Ewing was said to have derived directly from an old Highland
clan, the
Clan Ewen of Otter in Argyllshire. This clan had lost its traditional
in the late 15th century and had relocated to the lands of Lennox on
the shores
of Loch Lomond, precisely where the Ewing name is commonest to this day.

It was
this origin for the name which was believed by the leading Ewing
before 1922.

Then Elbert Ewing recorded the tradition that “the Ewings
America trace their origin to six stalwart brothers of a Highland clan” and he quoted a letter from John G. Ewing which

The name was originally MacEwen, and originated about 1400 in
Argyllshire, in Cowal. The members of the clan about 1500-1600 took
refuge in
the adjacent Lowlands district of the Lennox, which includes Dumbarton
and the
greater part of Stirling. Here many lost the “mac” and others
anglicized the
Ewen to Ewing.”

The origin in Clan Ewen of Otter was the only account of Ewing
origins known to have existed at that time.

Elbert Ewing instead claimed that the Ewing name was a distinctive Lowland Scots surname which had its origins among the ancient Brythonic princes of Dumbarton.  In support of his argument he noted that the Ewing motto Audaciter was identical with the motto of the 11th century prince Ewen of Dumbarton.

Ewing as a Scottish Clan?  The Ewings have had no chief
since the death of the last Ewing of Craigtoun in the 18th century.  From the late 19th century onwards the Ewings
were usually grouped as a family within Clan MacLachlan and were entitled to wear MacLachlan tartan.

In 1992 Lord Lyon gave permission for Clan MacLachlan to list MacEwens as a dependent group
within their clan.  Many Ewings
campaigned alongside MacEwens for independence in the belief that together they
made up a single clan.  However, it soon became
clear that in all but a few cases Ewings and MacEwens had different origins.

The tradition of Ewing clanship has remained particularly strong in America, as reflected
in Elbert Ewing’s 1922 book Clan
Ewing of Scotland. 
Although Elbert
theorized about Lowland origins, he also preserved oral traditions testifying
to its Highland roots.

In 1988 the Rev. Ellsworth S. Ewing established a
network of Ewings throughout the US under the name Clan Ewing in
America.  And in 2008 UK writer and
historian Thor
Ewing began investigating the historical evidence. His research
suggested that
the Ewings were indeed a clan in their own right – with their own
heraldry and tradition.

William Leckie Ewing, Glasgow Merchant.  William Leckie Ewing (who would later be known as Leckie
Ewing) was born in Stirlingshire in 1798, the son of Robert Ewing of the Balloch line and Isabella Leckie.  His
father died at a young age of 33 when he was not yet one and he spent much of
his childhood at the home of family relatives.
At the young age of fifteen, through family connections, her
found work in
Glasgow as a junior clerk in the West India merchant house of Stirling, Gordon & Co.

By this time the firm had begun switching from the tobacco to the sugar trade.  Leckie
Ewing soon prospered as a merchant there with them.  The
business survived the Government’s
abolition of the slave trade in 1833.  Owners
were compensated and Ewing and his
partners received compensation for their two Jamaican plantations.

In 1836 Leckie Ewing was chosen in a deputation to Drayton Manor to invite Sir Robert Peel to
a public banquet in the city.  This was
on the occasion of his installation as Lord Rector of the University.  Leckie was wont to recount the details of
this incident – their journey in a carriage-and-four (for it was before the
days of railways), their arrival and reception by Sir Robert and Lady Peel and
their family, the presentation of a huge petition, the dinner party, and the
return to Glasgow to announce the result to the citizens assembled in the Trades’ Hall.  And the banquet followed in
due course.

Leckie Ewing retired from business in 1845 and returned to his old family estate of Broich.  He built
himself a comfortable mansion house there and interested himself in country affairs.

Thomas Ewing and the Silver-Hilted Sword.  The early Ewings of America have traced their origin
to six brothers who participated in the doomed Argyll rebellion in Scotland against
King James in 1685 and, after the defeat, were outlawed.
They fled first to the Isle of Bute in
Scotland and then settled near Coleraine in county Londonderry.

In 1690 these
Ewings took part in the Battle of the Boyne, fought in Ireland between the
forces of King James and those of William of Orange.
They fought with distinction at the battle
and afterwards Findlay Ewing was said to have been honored by
King William
with a gift of a silver-hilted sword.

Findlay’s son Thomas was born in that same
year.  When he came to manhood he was
presented with the sword by his father.
He took it with him when he departed for America in 1718.  The sword, however, was subsequently
stolen.  So no evidence exists for it. 

Nathaniel Ewing’s Reminiscences.  Nathaniel Ewing had moved from Maryland to Indiana in
1801.  A short time before he died
in 1846 he wrote an account of his family.
That information along with additional information added by
William Ewing was published in 1897 in The Courier-Journal, more
than fifty years after Nathaniel’s death.

“At the request of my children I
give the following history of my family as far back as I have any
either traditional or personal.  My
forefathers were originally from Scotland, their seat in that country
being on
the Forth not far from Stirling Castle, whence they removed to the
north of
Ireland and settled near Londonderry.  My
great grandfather, whose name, I believe, was William, was twice
married.  By his first wife he had but one
Nathaniel, who was my grandfather; by his second marriage he had

Nathaniel Ewing was born about the year 1693.
He married a cousin Rachel Porter in the year 1723 and four
afterwards he emigrated to America, bringing with him his half-brothers
sisters, a large connection of the Porter family, and also the
Gillespies.  This colony settled in
Maryland, between
Octorora Creek and the Susquehanna River, near the Pennsylvania line.  My grandfather purchased a tract of land and
commenced farming.  His brother Joshua
also purchased a tract adjoining him.

He settled in what is now Cecil county where
he had a large family of ten children – six sons and four daughters.  They were Sarah, William, Ann, John and James
(twins), George, Alexander, Rachel and Samuel who died young.”

Civil War Dynasty – The Ewing Family of Ohio.  For years the Ewing family of Ohio has been lost in
the historical shadow cast by their in-law, General William T. Sherman.  In the era of the Civil War, it was the Ewing
family who raised Sherman, got him into West Point, and provided him
with the
financial resources and political connections to succeed in war.

The family patriarch
Thomas Ewing counseled presidents and clashed with radical
abolitionists and
southern secessionists leading to the Civil War.  Three
Ewing sons became Union generals,
served with distinction at Antietam and Vicksburg, marched through
Georgia, and
fought guerrillas in Missouri.  The Ewing
family stood at the center of the Northern debate over emancipation,
fought for
the soul of the Republican Party, and waged total war against the South.

In his
2012 book Civil War Dynasty, Kenneth J. Heineman brought to
this drama of political intrigue and military valor – warts and all.  This work is a military, political,
religious, and family history, told against the backdrop of disunion,
violence, and grief.


Select Ewing Names

  • William Leckie Ewing was a prominent Glasgow merchant in the early 1800’s.   
  • Thomas Ewing was a country lawyer from Ohio who twice
    served as its Republican US Senator and held Cabinet posts in Washington before
    and after the Civil War. 
  • Robert Ewing was a newspaper publisher and political figure in Louisiana of the late 19th and early 20th century. 
  • J.R. Ewing was head of the fictional Ewing family in the 1978-1991 TV series Dallas.

Select Ewing Numbers Today

  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Glasgow)
  • 13,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Ewing and Like Surnames 

These are surnames from the Scottish Lowlands.  Some are clan names; some – like Gordon, Graham and Hamilton – have Anglo-Norman antecedents that crossed the border into Scotland; and some – like Douglas and Stewart – were very powerful in early Scottish history.  Stewart in fact became the royal Stuart line.




Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply