Irish surname, derived from MacDougall.
Name of an Irish clan, many of whom came to America, mostly during the The Great Potato Famine beginning in the 1840's, Ireland. The famine Came to be known as Black '47 due to the substantial amount of deaths that occurred from starvation in 1847.
Upon arrival many Irish shortened their surnames one way was to drop the "a" from Mac to Mc. Depending on pronunciation of the Irish name from the Gaelic tongue, many opted for phonetic spelling, thus MacDougall, sounding more like MacDowell, or MacDowall simply became the American spelling.
McDowell can be seen in numerous variations;
MacDowell, MacDowall, McDowall etc.
"Andy MacDowell is a beautiful actress" , "Roddie McDowall made numerous movies as a youngster", "Nicholas McDowell is a terrific writer".
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