Clans Associated with the Downie Surname

There is much discussion regarding Clan associations, in particular with sept names.  The Downie surname is no different, with its different derivations and pronunciations it can been associated with a number of Clans.

 Senior Sergeant Damian Downie

Clan Lindsay

The vast majority of the Downie families can trace their history to the east coast of Scotland, or to larger cities in the 1800’s, having moved there as part of the social movement during the industrial revolution.  For these Downie families, the Clan Lindsay Associations state that the Downie surname is a sept.

From investigation this is supported in that there have been very few if any of the Gaelic spelling of the Downie surname in that geographical area of Eastern, Central or the borders of Scotland.  The history of the Downie surname in the East of Scotland may be a development from the Barony of Downie or from the geographical features of the various hill forts in the Angus and Aberdeenshire area.


Clan Lamont

The Clan Lamont recognises the surname Aldownie/y as one of its septs.  It is my opinion that this sept name may be a derivative of the original spelling of Mcildonich or similar (pronounced McAldoE-ne), from the odd corruption of the surname spelt McAldownie in Argyll (to date only two have been identified), this surname is identified in the Cowal Peninsula in the surname spelling of Mcildonie/Mcgildonie.  The present research has identified that in the early and mid 1700’s there were a number of families with the surname of Mcildonich, Mcildonie, Mcgildonie and Donie located along the shore of Loch Striven or in Invercholain (Map).

All trace of these families (Mcildonich, Mcgildonie, Mcildonie and Donie) disappeared post 1760 from all Scottish births, marriage, deaths and census records. (The population of Invercholainin in 1755 was 944, in 1811 it was 588, and in 1841 it was 699.  The register began in 1737 but was kept imperfectly until 1771.  Presbyterian and a Friendly Society are the churches in this parish (Reference) ). The only record of this family surname of Donie found in searches is in the 1911 Irish Census places one family in Antrim.  It is my opinion that the family surnames changed as others of the period to that of Downie (See variations in surname spelling further in the document) and/or were cleared like so many others from the land.

Supporting the contention that the Mcildonie families changed their names to Downie is the work done by Martin (1999), who described that virtually all Gaelic names suffered mutilation to a greater or lesser degree, with surnames of Kintyre that are demonstrably Gaelic origin have ceased to be recognized as so, for example Downie.  On the examination of the Downie surname in Kintyre Martin states that having considered all of the evidence that the likeliest form (of Downie) is, therefore, Mac Mhaol Domhnaich, which may – or may not- represent “son of the servant of the Lord”.  Examples of the Downie surname in their Gaelic form includes Malcolme Mcildonie in Moy c.1635, Gilpatrick McOldonych in Gartgrellane and Gilnave McOldonych in Egill (Uigle) or Ochterane c.1630 (SLK); (SLK = Survey of the Lands of the Lordship of Kintyre c.1630/1653).

Examination of the records held by the genealogy site “Scotland’s People” reveals that similar to other changes, James Mcildonie married a Janet Henderson in Campsie, who subsequently have children with the surname of Dounie and Downie:

05/03/1698 MCILDONIE JAMES JONET HENDERSON/FR145                      MR Campsie
15/01/1710 DOUNIE JEAN         JAMES DOUNIE/JONET DOUNIE FR213     U Campsie 

Further support for this naming convention comes from the official Clan Donald website describes Macildonie in Kintyre of Clan Donald, those not in Kintyre may be of Clans Cameron, Lamont, MacGregor or MacLean, with Macildonie derived from the Gaelic: Mac Mhaoil Domnhaigh - "son of the Lord's Dayservant" (Reference).

The Manx Notebook (1929) describes the surname MacAldonich, or in Gaelic is M’ Maol-Domhnaich, from the older Mael-Domhnaich or “Servant of Sunday of Sunday’s Servant” or Muldonich “Sunday’s Servant” (Black, 1923) or from Maoldomhnaich, "servant of the Church", derivative surnames are McAldonich in Scotland, Muldooney, Muldowney, in Ireland (W.W.Gill A Third Manx Scrapbook, 1928) (Reference).   The Manx Notebook (1929) describes MacAldonieh, MacIldoney. Mac-giolla-, or Mac-maol-, Domhnaich as son of the servant of the Church, or of the Lord. Cf. the former Mx forename Moldonny, Maoldonich in Scotland, whence the surname McOldonuich, 16th cent. (Reference).  From Padraig Mac Giolla Domhnaigh’s (1923) book, “Some Anglacised Surnames in Ireland” describes the Downey/Downie surname in the Scottish Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghille Domhnaich.  The Downie name was written in Perthshire, about two hundred years ago as McAldonich.

An example of one of the Downie surname derivation associated with the lands controlled by Clan Lamont.  The first comes from AN INVENTORY OF LAMONT PAPERS (1231-1897) Collected, Edited, and Presented TO THE SCOTTISH RECORD SOCIETY, BY Sir NORMAN LAMONT of Knockdow, Baronet, F.S.A.Scot. EDINBURGH: PRINTED BY J. SKINNER & COMPANY, LTD. 1914. p.52.   In witness whereof the granter's seal was appended, the witnesses being Sir Alexander of Mernys, Sir Donald Cambell, James Stewart, brother of Sir Walter Steward of Scotland, John son of Gilbert, then Bailie of Both, Allan of Grimeslaw, clerk, etc." [circa 1325]. On which the said Cristin asked instruments. Done at Arde Lavmonde, after noon of the day aforesaid, before witnesses, John Donaldson M'Pherson, John M'Gilledonich, John M'Gillaspic, Duncan Donaldson Ewenson, Gillanes M'Gillelan, John M'Cauer, Duncan M 'Vicar, and Neil M'Artour M’Cavis, etc. The notary is Donald M'Gilleroi, presbyter of the diocese of Argyll. (Reference)


Clan Buchanan

Clan Buchanan of Scotland notes that those of the MacAldonich surname can wear the tartan but are not accepted as septs.  The other Clan Buchanan Associations accept those with the McAldonich surname as being septs.


Clan MacMillan

Septs of Clan MacMillan include MacAldonich, MacMaoldonich, MacGilledonich, M'Ghille-Domhnuich, M'Ildonich and M'Maoldonich.  (Reference).  According to the Leny family tree the MacMaoldonichs had their seat in Strathearn in Perthshire, though the few individuals so far found bearing this surname appear more often in Argyll, alongside MacMillans and other names related to the clan in that part of Scotland. So we find Finlay M'Moldonich in Craignish in 1549, and a Donald M'millan alias M'ildonich marrying Christian M'coll in 1779 in the parish of Kilninver & Kilmelford.

In review of the Lenny family tree, Graeme MacKenzie (Genealogist Clan MacMillan) writes that reading this section (family tree diagram) from the bottom up, the first name is Gilibile Macgilespic de Lany from whom branch off to the right the Macgilbiles in Lochaber. Above him is Colmin Macgilbile, from whom the Macolmins in Airgile & Cintyre; then Maolan Macolmin - the second Maolan in a pedigree which has clearly been deliberately extended by the use of repetitions - from whom are said to come the Macmillans in Airgile & Braedalbin. Next is Maoldonich, the first of two on the tree (from whom come the MacMaoldonichs in Strathearn) (MacKenzie).  (Reference)

From Electric Scotland, the surname McAldonich is also (rightly or wrongly) associated as a sept of Clan Buchanan. (Reference) although as with MacMillan surname, the McAldonich’s may have suffered the same fate.  “Come that era an unknown Buchanan then tried to cut and paste his clan into the de Lany line early, to be followed by Auchmar's attempt to usurp the whole lineage so as to make them all Buchanans in the first place. The audaciousness of Auchmar's sept-napping endeavours simply stand, however, as further evidence of the importance of Clann an Mhaoil in later medieval Scotland; even if we have to seek for them in the contemporary records under a variety of names other than "MacMillan".” (Reference)


Clan Donald (South)

The official Clan Donald website describes Macildonie in Kintyre of Clan Donald, those not in Kintyre may be of Clans Cameron, Lamont, MacGregor or MacLean, with Macildonie derived from the Gaelic: Mac Mhaoil Domnhaigh - "son of the Lord's Dayservant".  (Reference)


Clan Cameron

While the Clan Cameron proper does not have the surname, the North American Branch of the Association accepts Macildownie as a sept name.  The association may be part of a miss spelling of the surname from MacIldowie or from the official Clan Cameron site, DONIE / DAWNIE / DORNIE / DOMHANAIDH / DOMHANAIDH NAN CAT, a “Hollow Place.”  A settlement formerly located in Gleann Domhanaidh, south of the River Lundy and just east of the present-day Nevis Range facility.  Possibly known in the past as Domhanaidh nan Cat – Donie of the Cats and also Dawnie (a corrupted version of Donie). (Reference)


Other Clans

A number of clans have the surname the Mcildownie and Mcildowie surnames.  The latter has often been stated to be anglacised to the surname Dowie or Black from the Gaelic.  Dowie is probably a reduced form of MacIldowie/McAldowie, an anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Gille Dhuibh ‘son of the black lad’ (Reference). The Scottish Surname Database described how the Dounie (Downie) surname has been used in conjunction with the Dowie, Douie, Dowy, Douie, Doyie, Duie surname.  (Reference)