Show ContentsCowans History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Strathclyde-Briton people of ancient Scotland were the first to use the name Cowans. The Cowans family lived in the Scottish-English border region. The Cowans family lived in Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, and other Lowland counties. The name may be from the Scottish word cowan, a dry-stone-diker or more likely a corruption of Colquhoun, the common pronunciation of which is Cohoon. "Mr. Alexander Cowan, father of Sir John Cowan of Beeslack is said to have left on record that many of his grandfather's books bore the name of Colquhoun." [1]

Early Origins of the Cowans family

The surname Cowans was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland where a name like Iain MacComhain becomes Iain Comhan in Gaelic while the English equivalent is Cowan. The name of James Cowhen, chaplain in North Berwick, 1560. [1]

Early History of the Cowans family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cowans research. Another 105 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1852, 1865, 1868, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1876, 1876 and are included under the topic Early Cowans History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cowans Spelling Variations

Medieval Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. This is due to the fact that scribes in that era spelled according to the sound of words, rather than any set of rules. Cowans has been spelled Cowan, Cowans, Cowen, Cowens, MacCowan, MacCowden and many more.

Early Notables of the Cowans family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Frederic Hymen Cowen, born Jan. 29, 1852, at Kingston, Jamaica, exhibited early an extraordinary love of music, was brought to England by his parents when four years old, and placed under the tuition of Sir J. Benedict and Sir J. Goss, whose pupil he remained until the winter of 1865. He then studied at the conservatoires of Leipzig and Berlin, returning to London...
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cowans Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cowans Ranking

In the United States, the name Cowans is the 7,846th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]

Ireland Migration of the Cowans family to Ireland

Some of the Cowans family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Cowans family

Many Scots were left with few options other than to leave their homeland for the colonies across the Atlantic. Some of these families fought to defend their newfound freedom in the American War of Independence. Others went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these families have recently been able to rediscover their roots through Clan societies and other Scottish organizations. Among them: Barbara Cowan who settled in New Jersey in 1685; along with Marjorie; Andrew Cowan settled in South Carolina in 1772; Alexander Cowan settled in New York City in 1774.

Contemporary Notables of the name Cowans (post 1700) +

  • Herbert "Kat" Cowans (b. 1904), American jazz drummer who also spelt his name Cowens
  • Harry Lowes Cowans (1932-1985), British Labour Party politician, Member of Parliament for Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central (1976-1983) and for Tyne Bridge (1983-1985)
  • Norman George Cowans (b. 1961), Jamaican former cricketer who played in 19 Tests and 23 ODIs from 1982 to 1985 for England
  • Gordon Sidney Cowans (b. 1958), English retired football player and coach; he played from 1976 to 1997 and managed Aston Villa from 1998, member of the England U21, England B and England National Teams (1979-1990)
  • General Sir John "Jack" Stephen Cowans GCB GCMG MVO (b. 1862), British Quartermaster-General to the Forces (1912-1919)

The Cowans 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.

  1. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?"., on Facebook