An interesting and unusual name of Scottish origin, Cowie 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 "colldha", an adjective from "coll", meaning hazel, thus it is likely that places named with this word were associated with hazel trees, a grove, perhaps. 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 Couie is recorded in Reidmyre in 1642. Two early christenings of namebearers in Kincardinshire are of one William Cowie on April 6th 1673 at Kinneff and Catterline, and of one 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 was granted to a family so called living at Furleigh Lodge, Surrey, which depicts 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, which was dated 1394, charter witness in the "Miscellany of the Spalding Club", Aberdeen, during the reign of King Robert 111 of Scotland, 1390 - 1406. 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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