Colshil History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The illustrious surname Colshil finds its origin in the rocky, sea swept coastal area of southwestern England known as Cornwall. Although surnames were fairly widespread in medieval England, people were originally known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames were adopted is extremely interesting. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Lords and their tenants often became known by the name of the feudal territory they owned or lived on. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. This was due to the heavy political and cultural influence of the English upon the Cornish People at the time that surnames first came into use. Local surnames were derived from where a person lived, held land, or was born. While many Cornish surnames of this sort appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames derived from lost or unrecorded place names. The name Colshil is a local type of surname and the Colshil family lived in Cornwall. Their name, however, is derived from the Old English word coll, which means hill, and indicates that the original bearer lived near such a landform. The redundancy in the name (hills hill) is likely a later addition after the initial word cole had fallen out of use and its meaning has been forgotten.
Early Origins of the Colshil family
The surname Colshil was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat from very ancient times at Tremoderet. "In the church [of Higher and Lower Tredinneck, Cornwall] which is a plain Gothic structure, there is a handsome monument of stone, sustaining a recumbent figure of a knight in armour, with an inscription to the memory of Sir John Coleshill of Tremoderet, who died in 1483." 
"The manor of Canalissey or Cannaligee, [in St. Issey, Cornwall] was in all probability the property of the Hiwis family so early as the reign of Edward III. ; since at that period they held a large estate in this parish. From them it passed by a co-heiress to the Coleshills." 
"The manor of Liskeard Coleshill [in the parish of Liskeard] was possessed by a family of this latter name in the fifteenth century." 
There are three other places named Coleshill in Britain. Coleshill is a market town in the North Warwickshire, a village and civil parish within Chiltern district in Buckinghamshire and a small village and civil parish in the Vale of White Horse district of Oxfordshire.
Of the three places, the Warwickshire town seems to be the oldest as the first listing was found in 799 as Colleshyl. By the Domesday Book in 1086, the town was listed as Coleshelle and probably was derived from the Old English River Cole + hyll as in "hill on the River Cole." 
Cowlishaw is a hamlet in the township of Crompton, in the parish of Prestwick, Lancashire. "This surname has crossed over the border into Yorkshire, and is strong there. It is Americanized as Cowlinshaw."  There are also records of the family in Cowlishaw, Derbyshire,  but recent maps show no such place.
Early History of the Colshil family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Colshil research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1418, 1424 and 1427 are included under the topic Early Colshil History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Colshil Spelling Variations
Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Coleshill, Colshill, Colsell, Colshull, Colshall, Cowlshaw and many more.
Early Notables of the Colshil family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Colshil Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Colshil family
An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Colshil: John Coleshell settled in Virginia in 1660; Anne and William Cowlishaw sailed to Salem, Massachusetts in 1630.