Irish Willie

William McDowell
William McDowell

My 2nd great grandfather William McDowell was born June 11,1823 in Dromore, County Down, Ireland. The McDowells were originally from Scotland, the name McDowell being derivative of the name McDougall. The McDougall Clan was 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. After stowing away on a ship bound for Glasgow he 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.

Birth of William McDowell (


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