This interesting surname, with variant spelling Cow, though appearing to be a nickname from the animal, is actually an occupational name for a cook, deriving from the Old French "queu", "keu", "kiew" and "cu". It may also refer to one who sold cooked meat or kept an eating-house. The surname first appears in the late 12th Century (see below). The spelling Cowe first emerges in Scotland in the mid 14th Century, with one, Radulfus Cowe, a juror on an inquest in Edinburgh, 1359. The surname is still popular in Scotland today. Robert Cow is recorded in the Charters of the royal burgh of Ayrshire (1490) and Alexander Cow was a notary public in Edinburgh (1504). Other recordings of the surname from church registers include; John Cowe who married Alys Maby, on August 22nd 1546 in St. Margaret's, Westminster; Jane, daughter of Raphe Cowe, who was christened on January 18th 1605, at Barrowby, Lincolnshire; and on November 1st 1649, Elizabeth Cowe married Thomas Widdowson, in Lenton, Lincolnshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger le Cu, witness, which was dated 1196, in the "Fine Court Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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