Recorded as Cowie and occassionally Cowey, this is a surname of Scottish origins. It is locational from any of several places of this name, but mainly from the ancient barony of Cowie in Kincardineshire. The derivation is from the Gaelic word "colldha", meaning the hazel tree and presumably was giev originally to an area whre these were prominent. In local dialect the name is pronounced "Cooie" or "Ku-ie", but in written form the name has undergone several changes, for example, Janet Cowie, a witch, is recorded in Elgin in 1646, John Colwye is recorded in 1617 as bailie of Newburcht, and one John Cowey is recorded in Reidmyre in 1642. Two early christenings of namebearers in Kincardinshire are William Cowie on April 6th 1673, at Kinneff and Catterline, and Margaret Cowie on October 19th 1656 at Arbuth, Nottinghamshire. A notable namebearer was Benjamin Morgan Cowie (1816 - 1900), professor of geometry at Gresham College, London, who was appointed dean of Manchester in 1872 and of Exeter in 1883. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of per pale ermine and black, a fesse counterchanged. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Herbert de Cowy. This was dated 1394, when he was a charter witness recorded in the "Miscellany of the Spalding Club", Aberdeen, during the reign of King Robert 111rd of Scotland, 1390 - 1406. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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