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About the study

COWGILL - There are several places named Cowgill in Yorkshire, but the source of the surname is Cowgill on Malham Moor in the former West Riding, once a Fountains Abbey property. All the surname evidence indicates that it has a single family origin and that has been reinforced by the DNA tests carried out on both sides of the Atlantic. Lee Gate House in Malham marks the site of the medieval settlement and the place-name is preserved in the isolated farm known as Cow Gill Cote. This lies just across the gill and has been deserted for many years. There has been a debate about the interpretation of Cowgill, but early examples of the place-name and surname prove that the first element could not have been "cow": 1379 John de Colgyll, Arncliff; 1458 Thomas Colgill, Ilkley. The modern spelling developed in the first half of the 16th century: Brian Cogill, East Marton, 1543 Robert Cowgyll, Thornton in Craven. There were formerly coal workings in the gill and this probably explains the first element. By 1672 the name had established itself in the two Craven Villages of Carleton and Thornton and from there it spread later into Ribblesdale. In 1682 Ellen Cowgill and her children left for America with the Penn fleet: and she is named on a certificate from the Quaker Meeting at Settle which authorized their departure. In the census of Great Britain in 1881 Cowgill totaled 754 and a massive 97 per cent of those families still lived in adjoining parts of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. The major locations were Bradford, Skipton and Burnley. (Dr. George Redmonds of Yorkshire, author 2015)