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Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

My aim is to the establish the entire worldwide 'family tree' for the COLDWELL/COULDWELL surname. For various reasons this aim may not be achieved but I hope to get close to it.

I want to expand the study to the present day and wider afield by exchanging information with living Coldwell people.

Please email me if you wish to find out more about the Coldwell family.

Variant names

Note that Coldwell is a separate family from Caldwell which is not covered by this study.

The main variant of Coldwell is Couldwell and this surname tends to occur mostly in the southern part of Yorkshire. Occasionally Coldwell also gets transformed into a Cowgill which is confusing because the name exists in its own right unconnected with Coldwell. I have also found a few Coldhill as variants of Coldwell. Occasionally there are other variants arising from minor changes in spelling but these are few in number and are usually apparent by tracing the particular family backwards to find the original name.

Name origin

In West Yorkshire, the locality Coldwell in Austonley in the Holme valley, west of Huddersfield, has given rise to the name Coldwell, which has ramified in the Holmfirth area and subsequently spread throughout the old West Riding of Yorkshire. Today there remains a farm and a lane named Coldwell in Austonley (now called Homebridge).

Historical occurrences of the name

The earliest reference I have found to Coldwell is in 1376 to John de Coldewelle involved in a dispute with John de Malleshedde at Austonley (West Riding Manorial Court Records). In the same year Thomas de Coldewelle surrendered a cottage and five roods of land in Wooldale, Holmfirth, Huddersfield. Several other early references exist including this interesting item in 1447/8 at Scholes, Holmfirth: a bye-law that Agnes Coldewelle should repair and mend the common way at New Mill near Huddersfield. This is the first evidence of a connection with the new corn mill (new pre 1447!). Coldwell (now Coldhill) Lane leads to the mill site in New Mill. There are many more early references to Coldwell in the Wakefield records.

Some interesting Coldwell people:

John Coldwell 1535-1596 Doctor of Medicine and Bishop of Salisbury, England. He had five children.

William Coldwell Born 1694 died aged 108. In 1760 he moved to Nova Scotia. 2000 ancestors born in NS.

John Coldwell 1788-1819. Convicted in 1813 and transported to New South Wales arriving July 1814.

William Edward Coldwell 1795-1867 Priest who became Presbendary of Litchfield

Robert Coldwell 1803-1856 Weathy Wakefield woollen manufacturer

Francis Henry Coldwell 1829-1922 Bishop of Leicester changed name to THICKNESSE to wife's line.

Clement Leigh Coldwell 1833-1903 Highly regarded priest in Scottish Episcopal church.

Henry Herbert Coldwell-Horsfall Wealthy manufacturer who changed his name to that of alleged father.

Wellond Marcellous Coldwell 1857-? Yukon Gold miner.

Vincent Coldwell 1880-1916 Captain Indian Army Cavalry. Died in Basra, Iraq.

Colbert Coldwell 1883-1967 Co-founder of the Coldwell-Banker real estate business

Major James William Coldwell 1889-1974 Leader of Canadian Socialist Party (NOT an army Major)

Cec Coldwell 1929-2008 Professional footballer at Sheffield, England

Pedro Joaquin Coldwell 1950 - living. Senior Mexican politician and PRI part leader

Pattie Coldwell 1952-2002 Popular outspoken UK TV personality

Name frequency


Distribution of the name

In the 1881 census for England and Scotland, there were 1311 individuals named Coldwell and 261 named Couldwell. The number in Yorkshire was 1048 and 61 in Lancashire with the balance of 463 spread around England and Scotland. In Yorkshire the greatest numbers of Coldwell families were in the Poor Law unions of Huddersfield, Wortley (Penistone area), Barnsley, Sheffield and Ecclesell Bierlow (west of Sheffield). Other Coldwell/Couldwell families were scattered thoughout the UK. Since 1881 there has been some migration around the UK but the highest concentrations remain in the Yorkshire region.


To date (2012) I have information on about 15000 individuals mainly in the UK area to around year 1500. So far I have been able to construct several Coldwell regional sub-trees. Please email me if you require information on any Coldwell family members.


The Coldwell (and variants Y-DNA test project) was established in December 2012.

For more info please see

The Coldwell/Couldwell Y-DNA Project welcomes all participants. Males are encouraged to join to learn more about their origins and ancestry. The Y DNA test tells you about your direct male line, which would be your father, his father, and back in time. You must be male to take this test because females do not carry their fathers YDNA. Choose a 37 Markers test as this is usually adequate but if necessary a higher number of markers can be added later.

The project also covers surnames - Coldhill, Coudell, Cowdell, Cowdill which are often linked to the Coldwell family.

Participating is an opportunity to uncover information not provided in the paper records, which will help with your family history research. It will also discover which family trees are related. As the project progresses, the results for the various family trees will provide information about the evolution of the surname.