Select Ewing Miscellany

Here are some Ewing stories and accounts over the years:

Ewing Origins

Where did the Ewings come from?  The answer was in the old, traditional understanding of the name Ewing on which Elbert Ewing poured such scorn in his book Clan Ewing of Scotland in 1922.

The name Ewing was said to have derived directly from an old Highland clan, the Clan Ewen of Otter in Argyllshire. This clan had lost its traditional homeland in the late 15th century and had relocated to the lands of Lennox on the shores of Loch Lomond, precisely where the Ewing name is commonest to this day.

It was this origin for the name which was believed by the leading Ewing families before 1922. Then Elbert Ewing recorded the tradition that "the Ewings of America trace their origin to six stalwart brothers of a Highland clan"
 and he quoted a letter from John G. Ewing which stated:

“The name was originally MacEwen, and originated about 1400 in Argyllshire, in Cowal. The members of the clan about 1500-1600 took refuge in the adjacent Lowlands district of the Lennox, which includes Dumbarton and the greater part of Stirling. Here many lost the “mac” and others anglicized the Ewen to Ewing.”

The origin in Clan Ewen of Otter was the only account of Ewing origins known to have existed at that time.

Elbert Ewing instead claimed that the Ewing name was a distinctive Lowland Scots surname which had its origins among the ancient Brythonic princes of Dumbarton.  In support of his argument he noted that the Ewing motto Audaciter was identical with the motto of the 11th century prince Ewen of Dumbarton

Ewing as a Acottish Clan?

Ewings have had no chief since the death of the last Ewing of Craigtoun in the 18th century.  From the late 19th century onwards the Ewings were usually grouped as a family within Clan MacLachlan and were entitled to wear MacLachlan tartan. 

In 1992 Lord Lyon gave permission for Clan MacLachlan to list MacEwens as a dependent group within their clan.  Many Ewings campaigned alongside MacEwens for independence in the belief that together they made up a single clan.  However, it soon became clear that in all but a few cases Ewings and MacEwens had different origins.

The tradition of Ewing clanship has remained particularly strong in America, as reflected in Elbert Ewing's 1922 book Clan Ewing of Scotland.  Although Elbert theorized about Lowland origins, he also preserved oral traditions testifying to its Highland roots. 

In 1988 the Rev. Ellsworth S. Ewing established a network of Ewings throughout the US under the name Clan Ewing in America.  And in 2008 UK writer and historian Thor Ewing began investigating the historical evidence. His research suggested that the Ewings were indeed a clan in their own right - with their own history, heraldry and tradition.

William Leckie Ewing, Glasgow Merchant

William Leckie Ewing (who would later be known as Leckie Ewing) was born in Stirlingshire in 1798, the son of Robert Ewing of the Balloch line and Isabella Leckie.  His father died at a young age of 33 when he was not yet one and he spent much of his childhood at the home of family relatives.  At the young age of fifteen, through family connections, her found work in Glasgow as a junior clerk in the West India merchant house of Stirling, Gordon & Co.

By this time the firm had begun switching from the tobacco to the sugar trade.  Leckie Ewing soon prospered as a merchant there with them.  The business survived the Government’s abolition of the slave trade in 1833.  Owners were compensated and Ewing and his partners received compensation for their two Jamaican plantations.

In 1836 Leckie Ewing was chosen in a deputation to Drayton Manor to invite Sir Robert Peel to a public banquet in the city.  This was on the occasion of his installation as Lord Rector of the University.  Leckie was wont to recount the details of this incident - their journey in a carriage-and-four (for it was before the days of railways), their arrival and reception by Sir Robert and Lady Peel and their family, the presentation of a huge petition, the dinner party, and the return to Glasgow to announce the result to the citizens assembled in the Trades' Hall.  And the banquet followed in due course.

Leckie Ewing retired from business in 1845 and returned to his old family estate of Broich.  He built himself a comfortable mansion house there and interested himself in country affairs

Thomas Ewing and the Silver-Hilted Sword

The early Ewings of America have traced their origin to six brothers who participated in the doomed Argyll rebellion in Scotland against King James in 1685 and, after the defeat, were outlawed.  They fled first to the Isle of Bute in Scotland and then settled near Coleraine in county Londonderry.

In 1690 these Ewings took part in the Battle of the Boyne, fought in Ireland between the forces of King James and those of William of Orange.  They fought with distinction at the battle and afterwards Findlay Ewing was said to have been honored by King William with a gift of a silver-hilted sword.

Findlay’s son Thomas was born in that same year.  When he came to manhood he was presented with the sword by his father.  He took it with him when he departed for America in 1718.  The sword, however, was subsequently stolen.  So no evidence exists for it.

Nathaniel Ewing's Reminiscences

Nathaniel Ewing had moved from Maryland to Indiana in 1801.  A short time before he died in 1846 he wrote an account of his family.  That information along with additional information added by Colonel William Ewing was published in 1897 in The Courier-Journal, more than fifty years after Nathaniel’s death.

"At the request of my children I give the following history of my family as far back as I have any knowledge, either traditional or personal.  My forefathers were originally from Scotland, their seat in that country being on the Forth not far from Stirling Castle, whence they removed to the north of Ireland and settled near Londonderry.  My great grandfather, whose name, I believe, was William, was twice married.  By his first wife he had but one son, Nathaniel, who was my grandfather; by his second marriage he had several children.

Nathaniel Ewing was born about the year 1693.  He married a cousin Rachel Porter in the year 1723 and four years afterwards he emigrated to America, bringing with him his half-brothers and sisters, a large connection of the Porter family, and also the Gillespies.  This colony settled in Maryland, between Octorora Creek and the Susquehanna River, near the Pennsylvania line.  My grandfather purchased a tract of land and commenced farming.  His brother Joshua also purchased a tract adjoining him.

He settled in what is now Cecil county where he had a large family of ten children - six sons and four daughters.  They were Sarah, William, Ann, John and James (twins), George, Alexander, Rachel and Samuel who died young."

Civil War Dynasty - The Ewing Family of Ohio

For years the Ewing family of Ohio has been lost in the historical shadow cast by their in-law, General William T. Sherman.  In the era of the Civil War, it was the Ewing family who raised Sherman, got him into West Point, and provided him with the financial resources and political connections to succeed in war.

The family patriarch Thomas Ewing counseled presidents and clashed with radical abolitionists and southern secessionists leading to the Civil War.  Three Ewing sons became Union generals, served with distinction at Antietam and Vicksburg, marched through Georgia, and fought guerrillas in Missouri.  The Ewing family stood at the center of the Northern debate over emancipation, fought for the soul of the Republican Party, and waged total war against the South.

In his 2012 book Civil War Dynasty, Kenneth J. Heineman brought to life this drama of political intrigue and military valor - warts and all.  This work is a military, political, religious, and family history, told against the backdrop of disunion, war, violence, and grief

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