Motto: Buaidh no bas (to conquer or die)

The name MacDougall, in Gaelic, ‘MacDhubhgall’, comes from three Gaelic words, ‘son of’, ‘dubh’ meaning black or dark and ‘gall’ meaning a stranger of foreigner.  In Gaelic, ‘gall’ often referred to Norsemen or Danes and still survives in modern Gaelic as the word for a Lowlander.  In the case of Clan Dougall, the name was not attributed directly to them, but was adopted as a surname by the chief and later the whole clan, who claimed descent from a common ancestor, Dougal, son of Somerled of the Isles, progenitor of Clan Donald.  

The first record of the name is in c.1230 when Duncan M’Kowele founded the Priory of Ardchattan in Argyllshire.  Dougall’s son, Duncan, who was probably the same Duncan M’Kowle above, was given by his father, certain lands in the district of Lorn.  He was first styled ‘of Argyll’, modified to ‘of Lorn’ later.  

The MacDougalls were supporters of Balliol during the Wars of Independence, and were also connected to the Coymns by marriage.  This led to them being on the losing side in the contest for the Scottish throne between Bruce and Balliol.  The clan lost much of its lands after this but they were restored when the chief of the clan married the great-granddaughter of Robert the Brice.  

Having come from a common ancestor, the MacDougalls and MacDonalds found themselves on opposite sides and the hostility that resulted was compounded during the 16th century after an heiress had carried lands to the Campbells via the Stewarts, the MacDougall of Dunollie acknowledged Argyll as his feudal superior.  At this time the chiefship passed to the MacDougalls of Dunollie as the nearest male heir.  

The MacDougalls fought for Charles I during the Civil War and later in a list dated 1704 giving the names of the clans and the numbers in each to be raised for the Pretender, the entry ‘Mac Dulothes 500 men’, is thought to mean MacDougall.  The Clan sided with the Old Pretender during the ’15 Rising and subsequently had their land forfeited.  They were restored prior to the ’45 Rising; the chief at that time did not take part in that event.  

There are many variations of spelling for this surname: Maoull, M;Cowyll, Macdowylle, M’Awell, McCuile, Makquhole, MacDogall, M’Houl, MacHowell, M’Koull, M’Oul, M’Owl, MacDull, MacDill etc.  There is much confusion over MacDougall tartans having very many disputed setts.