This is a locational surname which derives from the village of Cowarne in Hereford, or from some now lost medieval village of similar spelling. "Cowarne" is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as "Cuure" which may best be described as an attempt by a Norman-French cleric to spell the original Olde English "Cu-aern". The name describes an early dairy farm, but presumably one of significant size, as the countryside must have been full of cow farms. There is also a possibility that the modern surname, or at least some name holders, may have derived form the Gloucester village Cowhorn (hill), but this is not proven in the name recordings. Locational surnames developed when an inhabitant left his or her original village, and were given or took, as their new identity, the name of their former home. Spelling being at best erratic, and local dialects being strong, the name spelling often bore only a resemblance to the original village name. Examples of the surname recording include Walter Cowern who married Mary Skynner at Much Marcle, Herefordshire, on June 18th 1604, whilst on April 23rd 1757, Thomas Cowern married Elizabeth Kirkham at Kingswinford, Staffs. Very curiously the church register gives the recording of Mary Cowern, the daughter of Thomas and Mary Cowern, as being christened on April 13th of the same year, ten days before the wedding, but this is almost certainly a clerical error, not uncommon in the period. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Cowarne, which was dated June 23rd 1603, married Joyce Hodges at Kimbolton, Hereford, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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