I realize how difficult it is to migrate through the amount of DNA information available and to come away feeling as if you understand it! Remember, Y-DNA is passed from father to son through all generations with little to no change.
Through research, I have found that those with current spellings other than GOWIN and even GOWAN appear to be more distantly related to my family. This includes those with current GOWEN, GOIN, GOINS, GOAN, GOEN, GOING, GOINGS, etc. surname spellings. The spelling of GOWEN is a bit different from the others in that it does seem to jump around a bit. From these results, there does seem to be a pattern of those that do not have a “W” within the name.
First, a bit of information about the spelling variation of a surname:
GOIN, GOEN, GOAN, GOING, GOYNES – Is known to be more of an English surname, although, there are some recorded with a few of these variants in portions of Northern Ireland. Another variant is GOWING, that includes the ‘w’, but is considered of English origin.
GOWAN, GOWEN, GOWIN, GOW – Are more common spellings of names found in Ireland and Scotland. It is an English version of the Gaelic ‘gobhann’ and ‘gobhainn’ with the ‘bh’ pronounced as a ‘w’. In Ireland it is also found to be preceded by both the O’ and the Mc, while in Scotland the Mc. This is not always the case and in later years a family may drop them from their name or took on the Anglican version of names (including Smith, Smyth, Smythe) to be accepted by the English and make it so they were able to buy land. “Gobhann’ and “Gobhainn” mean smith or blacksmith and it is also a type of daisy. The Gaelic spelling with the Mc was captured as Mac s'Ghobhainn. The Mc and O’ meant “son of” as in: James, son of the smith or James McGowan.
Although our surname changed over time (depending upon the scribe), our Y-DNA results indicate that we were residents of the British Isles (primarily SW Scotland) and having lived there for 8,000 years before finally arriving in the colonies of North America sometime in the 17th or early 18th century. This is probably why the ‘w’ would not leave our name when scribed over time. Most likely, our ancestors in the colonies, and through later generations, spoke the ‘w’ in the name although a few English scribes would still record it as the English version.
I have met many with our surname and those with a ‘w’ argue over the correct pronunciation: is it GOW-in (as in a cow) or GO-win. I can assure you that through my travels to England and Scotland, as well as working with Irish in Scotland, the debate continues even there! Most with our surname preceded by a Mc or Mac in Ireland and Scotland (and usually in America) state it as GOW-in not GO-win. From those that know Gaelic, I have found that it too depends upon the interpreter, although most go with the GOW-in version. I have also found that if there is an "a" instead of an "i" in the name, people pronounce it as GOW-in rather than GO-win. Rather strange, but true.
Now for the Y-DNA results. As I mentioned, these results are nearly conclusive using the small population of participants. From the results, it provides better information about correlation of origin and spelling out of 32 total participants with our surname and variant (including Mc) using Y-DNA results:
Thirteen returned results of haplogroup E1b1a and their surnames were GOIN, GOEN, GOAN, GOING, GOYNES. This Y-DNA is mainly restricted to Sub-Saharan Africa, where it reaches frequency of over 80% in West Africa. Since the Trans-Atlantic slave trade brought a significant number of men to the Americas who carried this haplogroup, it has frequencies of 58%-60% in African Americans. A high degree of participants that currently spell their name this way tend to find distant relatives that were recorded as a person of color, mulatto, melungeon, or believe their relatives to be members of the tri-isolates or of native American heritage.
Eighteen returned results of haplogroup R1b1b2 and haplogroup I2b1a with their surnames GOWAN, GOWEN, GOWIN, GOW (including Mc) and one GOWINS was recorded with a haplogroup of E1b1a. Twelve of these eighteen returned results as haplogroup R1b1b2. Haplogroup R1b1b2 is primarily found with high percentages in the British Isles and medium percentages in Spain and France. Some from R1b1b2 have been found related to Niall of the Nine Hostages, a famous king of Ireland. Six of these eighteen returned results of haplogroup I2b1a. Haplogroup I2b1a is found with a high degree in the British Isles (for over 3,000 years) and it’s highest percentage in SW Scotland for over 1,400 years.
The number of haplogroup R1b1b2 participants increased if you include SMITH and variants of that name.
My Y-DNA, and those known male family members that tested, had a result of haplogroup I2b1a. I conducted further tests as party of a study of this haplogroup and my results helped narrow this subclade to Scotland and determine the timeline and is known as I2b1a1 (M223+, M284+, L126+, L137+, L369+).
Therefore, this should further demonstrate that although you may carry the same surname (or variant) doesn’t mean you are related, even if the total number in America is very small! The scribing in early colonial America during English ruling, makes it an increasingly hard challenge when trying to sift through these variants in colonial history (pre- 1800’s) and find our line from those that resided in the same large counties with a variant or similar spelling. The scribes of that period certainly didn’t help us!
What will help, is if more males with these surnames would test. Please encourage your male relatives with these variants to do so, even if a known cousin already has! It’s painless and relatively inexpensive to do and with only 32 participating out of 45,000 it is needed.