This name has two distinct possible origins, the first being a Jewish name from the Hewbrew "Kohen", a priest. However not all Jews bearing this name belong to the priestly caste, descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses, as several members of the faith changed their name to Cohen to avoid forced military service in the Russian army, priests being the only males exempt from service. The second possibility is that Cohen is an Anglicized form of two Gaelic Irish surnames - O Cadhain of Connacht, and O Comhdhain of Ulster. The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of", plus the personal bynames "Cadhan" meaning "wild goose" and "Comhdan", a shared gift. Further Anglicezed forms of these names include Cowen, Coen, Coyne, Cohan, Cohn, Cohani, Cahani etc.. Registers of the Mambro Synagogue, London, record the birth of one, Levy Issoscher Cohen on November 24th 1772, and on August 20th 1864, the birth of Michael, son of John Cohen, was recorded in Claremorris, County Mayo. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Cohen, (marriage to Anne Barlow), which was dated August 28th 1649, in St. Bartholomew the Less, London, during the reign of King Charles 1, known as "The Martyr" 1625 - 1649. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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