Show ContentsCowart History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Cowart was brought to England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Cowart is for a tender of cattle. The name is an adaptation of the Old English word cuhyrde, of the same meaning. It derives from the roots, cu, meaning cow, and hierde, meaning herdsman. 1

"Although the popular derivation of this opprobrious word from 'cow-herd' (whose occupation would be regarded with some disdain by the chivalrous in the Middle Ages) is untenable, I think it quite probable that the surname may be from that source, like Shepherd, Hayward, and other similar names." 2

With due regard to the these sources, we must revisit the Norman origin for a moment. In this case, the name was "from La Couarde, near Rochelle. Radulphus de Coarda occurs in Normandy 1198. " 3

Early Origins of the Cowart family

The surname Cowart was first found in Lancashire "in the Furness district." 4 Now part of Cumbria in northwestern England, this peninsula also known as Low Furness, an area of villages, agricultural land and low-lying moorland.

Searching through early rolls, we found Thomas le Cuherde was listed in Essex in 1255 and a few years later the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed William le Kukerde, Cambridgeshire; and John Kuhirde, Huntingdonshire. Over in Cumberland, the Placita de Quo Warranto, temp. Edward I-III listed John le Kuhyrde, 20 Edward I and Richard le Kuhyrde (both in the twentieth year of King Edward I's reign.)

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 had two listings for the family: Cecilia Cowehird, laborer; and Robertus Cowehyrde. 4

The famed English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, Noel Coward (1899-1973) hailed from Teddington, Middlesex, a south-western suburb of London.

Early History of the Cowart family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cowart research. Another 123 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1622, 1637, 1656, 1657, 1663, 1674, 1675, 1677, 1679, 1680, 1725, 1735 and 1738 are included under the topic Early Cowart History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cowart Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years the English language had no fixed system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations occurred commonly in Anglo Norman surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Cowart were recorded, including Coward, Cowerd and others.

Early Notables of the Cowart family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was William Coward (1657?-1725), English physician, born at Winchester in 1656 or 1657. "His mother was sister of Dr. John Lamphire, principal of Hart Hall, Oxford, and Camden professor of history, whose property he apparently inherited (Hearne, Collections, i. 248). In May 1674 Coward was admitted as a commoner of Hart Hall; and in 1675 a scholar of Wadham College. He proceeded B.A. in 1677, and in January 1679-1680 was elected fellow of Merton. " 5Another William Coward (d. 1738), was "a London merchant, famous for his liberality to dissent, possessed large property, including...
Another 157 words (11 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cowart Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cowart Ranking

In the United States, the name Cowart is the 2,851st most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. 6

Migration of the Cowart family

The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad in places like Ireland, Australia, and particularly the New World. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. The cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels caused many to arrive diseased and starving, not to mention destitute from the enormous cost. Still opportunity in the emerging nations of Canada and the United States was far greater than at home and many went on to make important contributions to the cultures of their adopted countries. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Cowart arrived in North America very early: John and Joanne Coward who settled in Virginia in 1654; James Coward settled in Maryland in 1774; Thomas Coward settled in Baltimore Maryland in 1823..

Contemporary Notables of the name Cowart (post 1700) +

  • Delma Cowart (1941-2021), American stock car racing driver, the "clown prince of racing" in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Ray J. Cowart, United States Air Force flight engineer and member of the Electronic Test Unit in the Pensacola Mountains, Antarctica, eponym of Mount Cowart, Antarctica
  • Edward D. Cowart (1925-1987), American lawyer and Dade County Circuit Court Judge, best known as presiding judge at the trial of serial killer Ted Bundy in 1979
  • Samuel Cowart III (b. 1975), American former college and current professional NFL football player
  • Shea Cowart, American two-time gold medalist sprinter at the 2000 Summer Paralympics
  • Kaleb Cowart (b. 1992), American baseball player
  • Donald "Dax" Cowart, American attorney noted for his fight over ethical issues regarding his disabling accident
  • George W. Cowart, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1964 7
  • Frank Cowart, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Mississippi, 1944 7
  • Charles A. Cowart, American politician, Mayor of Troy, Alabama, 1960-61 7
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Suggested Readings for the name Cowart +

  • The Ancestry and Descendants of John Cowart, 1816-1882 by Kyser Cowart Ptomey.

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 13) . Retrieved from on Facebook