Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,745 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

1,955 total views, 2 views today




About the study

The Cowling one-name study began in 2014 and is in its infancy. As is the case with many one-name studies the Cowling study arise from my own research and a stumbling block requiring more widespread research. My own family history research has taken me back to Sell Cowling born between 1773 and 1781 in Cambridgeshire. There is no baptism for a Sell Cowling recorded in Cambridgeshire and research lead me to investigate records of many parishes in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire and beyond.

Variant names

I have not as yet registered any variants of the surname Cowling. During my research in Cambridgeshire a number of spelling variations have been found for this family used inconsistently in parish registers, parish records and census returns: COWLING, COWLIN, COWLINGE, COULING, COWLAND, COWLEN.

If the surname dictionaries are considered the following are defined as variants of Cowling: COOLING, COULLING and COLLING and from Colling comes COLLINGE, COLLINGS and COLING. There is also some suggestion that Cowling or Colling may also be derived from COLIN / COLLIN / COLIN / COLLINS.

However, a consideration of surname distribution maps for those with sufficient numbers using a variety of data (see below) found that, whilst there were some similarities in the distribution of some of these names, notably Colling and Collinge, additional research is required to determine whether either of these is a true variant of Cowling.

With the evidence to hand to date it is concluded that the variants observed in the Cambridgeshire records are local alternative spellings rather than true variants.

Name origin

The suffix "€œ-ing"€ is found with patronymic and place name based surnames. The reference works offer a number of potential origins. It is primarily considered to be a toponymic place derived surname from Cowling in West Yorkshire. Consideration of a genealogical gazetteer based on place-names in the 1830s found three named Cowling: one in West Yorkshire, one in North Yorkshire and one in Suffolk. The distribution maps do not support the Suffolk Cowling but may reflect one or both of the Cowlings in Yorkshire.

Alternative suggestions are that Cowling may arise from a "€œplace by (a hill called) Coll"€ or be a double diminutive of Nicolas, as is the surname Collin. The latter is considered less likely followed an assessment of surname distribution maps.

Name frequency

530 Cowlings were recorded in the GRO death indexes from 1837 to 1851 inclusive. There were approximately 2630 Cowlings recorded in the 1881 England and Wales census. The University College London (UCL)’s data from 1998 indicates 3353 Cowlings. The ONS records 4615 Cowlings in 2002.

Distribution of the name

The distribution of the surnames Cowling and its many potential variants has been studied using distribution maps based on data from the 1881 census, GRO death indexes from 1837-1851 inclusive and the University College London (UCL)’s GB Family Names Profiler 1998 data. All suggest two areas of origin: one arising in Yorkshire and one in Cornwall. It is possible that all originated in Yorkshire and that the Cornwall population is derived from a single mobile individual.