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The Scottish surname MacEwen derives from the Old Gaelic Mac Eoghainn, meaning 'the son of Eoghann'. The name is found today in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. Because it was widely used before its spelling was standardised, the modern name has several common variations.

The earliest attested use is by a Malcolm MacEwen, who witnessed a charter in 1174. The surname has arisen independently in a number of clans throughout Scottish history. Although R. S. T. MacEwen claimed that all these families originated in Clan Ewen of Otter, this assertion is not supported by evidence. Recently however, Clan MacEwen has sought recognition as a clan in its own right.

The name has varied heraldic traditions, reflecting its various origins. The first MacEwen armiger was granted arms in 1743, and his achievement reflects his family's origins in Clan MacDougall. However a second grant of arms in the name made in 1793 to William MacEwan of Glenboig, displays Cameron symbolism in both its crest and its central charge.

If one looks at the geographic distribution of the variants MacEwan and MacEwen in the 1881 census, it becomes apparent that the MacEwen variant mainly occurred in the extreme northeast in Kirkwall, and at a lesser density in the adjacent Inverness shire. By contrast in 1881 MacEwan occurred almost exclusively in the southwest in Paisley (around Argyll). There is no overlap of the distributions, with neither name appearing in the intervening Perth shire. variants such as McEwan and McEwen are mainly in Perth and more southerly regions of Scotland, perhaps suggesting that these forms arose as people moved in more recent times.

There are three versions of MacEwen tartan, the first of which is listed in Vestiarium Scoticum as Farquharson. __NOTOC__