Recorded in several spellings including Cownley, Counley, Coundly, Coundley, Counelley,Cowndley, and Counly, this is an English surname of locational originations. Whether it is a variant form of the popular place name "Cowley", found in several counties, and meaning the fenced cattle farm, or the cattle farm in the enclosure (of the forest), or whether it derives from some now "lost" medieval village is unclear. What is certain is that no place now exists in any of the known spellings of the surname. Some five thousand British surnames originate from "lost" village sources, of which the only reminder in the late 20th century is the surname, and this may well be one of them. Examples of the surname recordings showing its development over the centuries are to be found in various of the surviving early London church registers. These examples include Sara Coundley, who married Willian Redey, at the famous church of St Mary-le-Bone, on June 8th 1766, and Mary Ann Cowndley, christened at the church of St Mildred Poultrey, on August 1st 1847. The earliest of these recordings is that of Anne Cowndly, the daughter of Henry Cowndly, christened at St Giles Cripplegate, city of London, on October 11th 1618. This was in the reign of King James 1st of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625.
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