Cowan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient Scottish name Cowan was first used by the Strathclyde-Briton people of the Scottish/English Borderlands. The original bearer of the name lived in the Scottish-English border region. The Cowan family lived in Ayrshire.

Early Origins of the Cowan family

The surname Cowan was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Early History of the Cowan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cowan research. Another 105 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cowan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cowan Spelling Variations

Spelling and translation were hardly exact sciences in Medieval Scotland. Sound, rather than any set of rules, was the basis for spellings, so one name was often spelled different ways even within a single document. Spelling variations are thus an extremely common occurrence in Medieval Scottish names. Cowan has been spelled Cowan, Cowans, Cowen, Cowens, MacCowan, MacCowden and many more.

Early Notables of the Cowan family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Cowan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Cowan family to Ireland

Some of the Cowan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Cowan migration to the United States +

Such hard times forced many to leave their homeland in search of opportunity across the Atlantic. Many of these families settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. The ancestors of many of these families have rediscovered their roots in the 20th century through the establishment of Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Among them:

Cowan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Barbara Cowan who settled in New Jersey in 1685
  • Barbara Cowan, who landed in New Jersey in 1685 [1]
  • Marjorie Cowan, who arrived in Perth Amboy, NJ in 1685 [1]
  • Marjory Cowan, who landed in New Jersey in 1685 [1]
Cowan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Ephraim Cowan, who arrived in New England in 1738 [1]
  • Andrew Cowan, who settled in South Carolina in 1772
  • Alexander Cowan, who settled in New York City in 1774
  • Alexander Cowan, aged 20, who arrived in New York in 1774 [1]
  • Andrew Cowan, who landed in New York in 1798 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cowan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Cowan, who arrived in America in 1804 [1]
  • James Cowan, who arrived in America in 1811 [1]
  • Christopher Cowan, who landed in America in 1812 [1]
  • Edward Cowan, who arrived in America in 1812 [1]
  • George Cowan, aged 30, who arrived in Connecticut in 1812 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Cowan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cowan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Isabella Cowan, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • Owen Cowan, aged 25, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Cupid" in 1834
  • Kitty Cowan, aged 19, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Cupid" in 1834
  • Mary Cowan, aged 22, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Cupid" in 1834
  • Nancy Cowan, aged 2, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Cupid" in 1834
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cowan Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Walter Cowan, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907

Australia Cowan migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Cowan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • David Cowan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lady Lilford" in 1839 [2]
  • Elizabeth Cowan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lady Lilford" in 1839 [2]
  • Samuel Cowan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1849 [3]
  • R. Cowan, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Senator" in 1849 [4]
  • Miss. Catherine Cowan, (Devlin), Scottish convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Baretto Junior" on 5th April 1850, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Cowan migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Cowan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Timothy Cowan, Cornish settler travelling from Launceston aboard the ship "Spray" arriving in New Zealand in 1851 [6]
  • Mr. Timothy Cowan, Cornish settler travelling from Launceston aboard the ship "Spray" arriving in New Zealand in 1851 [6]
  • Mr. Hugh Kennedy Cowan, (b. 1825), aged 34, British farm labourer travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Regina" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 4th December 1859 [6]
  • Mrs. Georgina Cowan, (b. 1834), aged 25, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Regina" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 4th December 1859 [6]
  • Mr. John Cowan, (b. 1852), aged 7, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Regina" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 4th December 1859 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Cowan (post 1700) +

  • Richard Cowan (1957-2015), American operatic bass-baritone
  • Mary Louise Cowan (1916-2015), née Shillingburg, American teacher and wife of the physicist, teacher, and university president Donald Cowan
  • Johnnie Cowan (1913-1993), American Negro league baseball infielder who played from 1934 and 1948, Negro League World Series Champion (1945)
  • Patrick Edmund Cowan (b. 1986), Canadian-born, free agent American football quarterback
  • Richard Olsen Cowan (b. 1934), American historian of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Denys B. Cowan (b. 1960), American Eisner Award nominated comic book artist and television producer
  • William Maurice "Mo" Cowan (b. 1969), American politician and lawyer, United States Senator from Massachusetts in 2013
  • John Cowan (b. 1952), American soul and progressive bluegrass vocalist and bass guitar player, lead vocalist and bass player for the New Grass Revival
  • Jerome Palmer Cowan (1897-1972), American stage, film, and television actor who appeared in 219 features, best known for his role as the prosecuting district attorney in Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • Nelson Cowan (b. 1951), American Curators' Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri
  • ... (Another 30 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Charles Cowan, British Leading Stoker, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [7]
  • Mr. David Cowan, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [7]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Alex Cowan, English Lift Attendant from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [8]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. William Cowan, American Coxswain from Missouri, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [9]


The Cowan Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Sic itur in altum
Motto Translation: This is the way to heaven.


Suggested Readings for the name Cowan +

  • 902 "Cowan/Lenox, and Next of Kin" by Mildred C. Siever, "The Cowans from County Down" by John Kerr Fleming.

  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LADY LILFORD 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839LadyLilford.htm
  3. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The BOLTON 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Bolton.htm
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SENATOR 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Senator.htm
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/baretto-junior
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  8. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  9. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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