This very interesting surname has at least two possible origins. it is almost certainly locational and maybe a development of Cowland, which itself is a lost location or medieval village in the Kent-Sussex region. There are at least five thousand lost medieval villages which have given rise to surnames, and both Cowlard and Cowland seem to be examples of the genre. Either way the name has almost certainly nothing to do with cows! It is a development of the Old Norse "Kollr" meaning a hillside, as in the Yorkshire village name "Cowlam". There is a secondary possibility that the name is personal, and a development of the Norse "Kausi" a popular nickname which meant "Tom cat" plus the genitive "ard" - a Saxon form translating as little or son of. What is certain is that the epic-centre of the name since the 16th century has been Chevening in Kent, almost all early recordings being found there. Examples of recordings include Jo: Cowlard who married Sarah Woodgate at Farningham, Kent, on August 7th 1693, and Thomas Cowlard, who married Hannah Budgen at Chevening, on July 23rd 1808. Earlier the name was recorded in London when Thomas Cowlard married Sarah Christopher at St Benets Church, Pauls Wharf, on July 14th 1737. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dionice Cowlard, which was dated July 14th 1594, married James Ardroll at Ightham, Kent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess" 1558 - 1603. 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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