Cowley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Cowley is Mac Giolla Chuille. Cuille has been suggested to be an abbreviation of Mochuille, the name of a saint. However, other origins also exist for this name.

Early Origins of the Cowley family

The surname Cowley was first found in Ulster (Irish: Ulaidh), where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

Early History of the Cowley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cowley research. Another 119 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1618, 1667, 1743, and 1809 are included under the topic Early Cowley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cowley Spelling Variations

Spelling variations occur frequently in Scottish names that date from the medieval era. They result from a general lack of grammatical rules and the tendency to spell names according to sound. Cowley has been spelled Cooley, Cooling, Cowley, Cully, Colly, McCooley, Coaley, Coolyng, Couley, Colley, McCowley, Cooleng, McCoolay, Coolay, Collay, Cullay, Cowleigh, Culleigh and many more.

Early Notables of the Cowley family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Cowley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cowley World Ranking

In the United States, the name Cowley is the 4,425th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [1] However, in New Zealand, the name Cowley is ranked the 844th most popular surname with an estimated 864 people with that name. [2] And in the United Kingdom, the name Cowley is the 850th popular surname with an estimated 7,974 people with that name. [3]


United States Cowley migration to the United States +

In the 20th century, the ancestors of many of those Boernician-Scottish people still populate North America. They distributed themselves on either side of the border at the time of the War of Independence. United Empire Loyalists went north to Canada and those who wanted a new nation stayed south. Both groups went on to found great nations. Some of the first North American settlers with Cowley name or one of its variants:

Cowley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Benjamin Cowley, who settled in New England in 1635
  • William Cowley, aged 20, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [4]
  • William Cowley, who arrived in Virginia in 1647 [4]
  • Tobyas Cowley, who arrived in Virginia in 1650 [4]
  • Sara Cowley, who arrived in Virginia in 1650 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cowley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Antho Cowley, who landed in Virginia in 1719 [4]
  • Agnes Cowley, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [4]
  • Mary Cowley, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1765
  • Robert Cowley, who settled in Maryland in 1774
Cowley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Sarah Cowley, aged 29, who landed in Massachusetts in 1813 [4]
  • Sarah Cowley, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1823
  • Patrick Cowley, who settled in New York State in 1823
  • Andrew Cowley, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1856 [4]
  • John Cowley, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1858 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cowley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Alfred Cowley, (b. 1874), aged 29, Cornish innkeeper travelling aboard the ship "Oceanic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York in 1903 en route to the United States [5]

Canada Cowley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cowley Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Miss. Noreen Cowley, aged 5 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Bee" departing from the port of Cork, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in May 1847 [6]
Cowley Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • P Cowley, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907

Australia Cowley migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Cowley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Robert Cowley, (b. 1800), aged 33, English convict who was convicted in Somerset, England for life for malicious wounding, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 27th April 1833, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • Mr. George Cowley, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 18th June 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [8]
  • Mr. Robert Cowley, English convict who was convicted in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 18th June 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [8]
  • Albion Cowley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Navarino" in 1837 [9]
  • Mr. John Cowley, British Convict who was convicted in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England for 15 years, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 25th June 1838, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Cowley migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Cowley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Robert Cowley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859
  • Robert H. Cowley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859
  • George Cowley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859
  • Walter Cowley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859
  • Jane Cowley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Cowley migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [11]
Cowley Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Bryan Cowley, who settled in Barbados in 1635
  • Bryan Cowley, aged 30, who arrived in Barbados in 1635 [4]
  • Alice Cowley, who settled in Jamaica in 1661
  • Roger Cowley, who settled in Barbados with his wife Susanna and daughter Elizabeth in 1678

Contemporary Notables of the name Cowley (post 1700) +

  • Neil Cowley (b. 1972), American contemporary jazz pianist
  • Matthew Cowley (1897-1953), American missionary
  • Samuel P. Cowley (1899-1934), American agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Robert Cowley, American military historian
  • Patrick Joseph Cowley (1950-1982), American disco and Hi-NRG dance music composer and recording artist
  • Joseph Alan Cowley (b. 1958), former American professional baseball pitcher
  • Malcolm Cowley (1898-1989), American critic and poet
  • James A. Cowley, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1912 [12]
  • Harold Cowley, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Kentucky, 1964 [12]
  • Charles Cowley, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Mayor of Erie, Pennsylvania, 1955 [12]
  • ... (Another 28 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Cornwall
  • Charles Grenville Cowley, British Lieutenant aboard the HMS Cornwall when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [13]


  1. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  2. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  3. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  6. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 22)
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) NAVARINO 1837. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1837Navarino.htm
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 19th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/coromandel
  11. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 13) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ Force Z Survivors Crew List HMS Cornwall (Retrieved 2018, February 13th) - Retrieved from https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listcornwallcrew.html#A


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