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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the Scottish Cowen family come from? What is the Scottish Cowen family crest and coat of arms? When did the Cowen family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Cowen family history?

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


Surnames that evolved in Scotland in the Middle Ages often appear under many spelling variations. These are due to the practice of spelling according to sound in the era before dictionaries had standardized the English language. Cowen has appeared as Cowan, Cowans, Cowen, Cowens, MacCowan, MacCowden and many more.

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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cowen research. Another 185 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cowen History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Cowen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Cowen family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 265 words(19 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


The North American colonies beckoned, with their ample land and opportunity as their freedom from the persecution suffered by so many Clan families back home. Many Scots even fought against England in the American War of Independence to gain this freedom. Recently, clan societies have allowed the ancestors of these brave Scottish settlers to rediscover their familial roots. Among them:

Cowen Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Edward Cowen, who landed in Virginia in 1652
  • Thomas Cowen, who landed in Virginia in 1652
  • John Cowen, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1656

Cowen Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • James Cowen, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1763

Cowen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • George Cowen, aged 30, arrived in Delaware in 1812
  • P H Cowen, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Oliver C Cowen, who landed in Mississippi in 1851
  • W El Cowen, aged 19, landed in New York in 1862
  • Archibald Cowen, who arrived in America in 1869

Cowen Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Mary Cowen, aged 32, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Violet"

Cowen Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • James Cowen arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "William Watson" in 1859
  • Joseph Cowen arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Owen Glendowner" in 1864


  • Tyler Cowen (b. 1962), American economist, academic, and writer, known for his "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times
  • Scott S. Cowen (b. 1946), American educator, 14th President of Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Robert E. Cowen (b. 1930), American jurist, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1987-1998)
  • Arnold Wilson Cowen (1905-2007), American trial commissioner, a trial judge, and the chief judge of the appellate division of the United States Court of Claims
  • Ronald Cowen (b. 1980), American-born, Bermuda backstroke swimmer at the 2003 Pan American Games
  • Elise Nada Cowen (1933-1962), American poet
  • Joshua Lionel Cowen (1877-1965), American inventor of the the flash-lamp used as an early photographer's flash light source in 1899 and co-founder of Lionel Corporation, the manufacturer of model railroads and toy trains
  • Jeff Cowen (b. 1966), American art photographer
  • Benjamin Sprague Cowen (1793-1869), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio (1841-1843)
  • Benjamin Rush Cowen (1831-1908), American Union Army general during the American Civil War and politician, 13th Ohio Secretary of State in 1862



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.


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  1. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  4. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  5. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  9. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  10. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The Cowen Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cowen Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 15 May 2015 at 11:38.

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