Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
There are a number of possible variants of the surname COWLING but at the moment I have only registered the variant COWLIN.
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. More research is required to determine whether any of these other spellings are true variants rather than transient deviant spellings.
The recent Hanks, Coates, McClure’s The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland lists the following variants for Cowling: COWLIN, COULING, COULLING and COOLING. The older dictionaries add COLLING and from Colling come COLLINGE, COLLINGS and COLING. There is also some suggestion that Cowling or Colling may also be derived from COLIN / COLLIN / COLIN / COLLINS.
A consideration of surname distribution maps for those with sufficient numbers using a variety of data (see below) found that Cowling, Cowlen and Cowlin sit well together, though the numbers for Cowlen and Cowlin are small. There is more overlap of the distributions of Cowling with Coulin(g) and Colling(s) than Cooling and Col(l)in(s). Additional research is required to determine which, if any, of these is a true variant of Cowling.
The suffix "-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 "place 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.
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