Irish Willie

William McDowell

William McDowell

My 2nd ggrandfather William McDowell was born near Jerrettspass, Armagh, Ireland. I say near because the family says he was born in County Down. There is currently no birth record to be found . They also say it was June 15, 1815 but I have 2 census records wherein he stated that he was born in 1821 (this by statement of age). The McDowells were originally from Scotland, the name McDowell being derivative of the name McDougall. The McDougall Clan were one of the most powerful families on the west coast of Scotland but lost their lands by opposing Robert the Bruce. They did capture the Brooch of Lorn off of ” The Bruce’s” cloak in a daring ambush and it remains in their hands today.

William’s family was Ulster Scots, meaning they were part of the “plantation” of Northern Ireland by James I.

He was red-headed and strong-willed by all accounts and left home young because he could not get along with his stepmother. He stowed away on a ship bound for Glasgow and found work breaking rock in the Scottish Border Country. We first actually meet him on a census in Northumberland, England where he was working as an agricultural labourer at Sturton Grange, a farm near Warkworth.  Also working on the farm was Henry Clark an experienced tile-maker and it is at this time we assume that William started his career as a tile-maker, one that would lead to him becoming a man of some means.

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