Cowher History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Cowher arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is a name 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 Cowher family

The surname Cowher 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 Cowher family

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

Cowher Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval 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. The name has been spelled Coward, Cowerd and others.

Early Notables of the Cowher family (pre 1700)

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. " [5] Another 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 Cowher Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Cowher family

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Cowher or a variant listed above: 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 Cowher (post 1700) +

  • William Laird "Bill" Cowher (b. 1957), American former professional NFL football coach and player, head coach of the Steelers for their Super Bowl win in 2006, current studio analyst for The NFL Today


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Lowe, 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


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