Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Category: 1 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is in its early stages.
DNA website: www.familytreedna.com/groups/cowling/about
Contact: Karen Cummings
The Cowling one-name study is a combined traditional genealogy and DNA research project stemming from my own family history research. The ultimate aim of the project is to find out where the Cowlings originated from and how many separate family groups there are.
Do you have Cowlings in your family tree? How far back can you take them? Have you reached a dead end in your research? Looking at the name as a whole in this way may help your own research.
My own Cowling story begins in the village of Ickleton in Cambridgeshire. My ancestor, Sell Cowling, raised his family in Ickleton but does not appear to have been born there. Frustratingly, Sell died in 1850, just shy of the 1851 census, but the 1841 census tells us he was born in Cambridgeshire. This lead me to expand my research, first across Cambridgeshire, and then into neighbouring counties.
Along the way I have discovered that there appear to have been two areas of focus of the Cowling surname (see “Distribution” below), one in Cornwall and one in Yorkshire. This led me to question “where do my Cowlings originate?” “If we take the Cowlings back far enough are they all related to one another?” My interest thus expanded to all Cowlings in England and Wales.
Would you like to collaborate and find out where your Cornwall / Yorkshire / Lincolnshire and other Cowlings originated?
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.
I am very excited to announce that a COWLING DNA Project has now been initiated on the Family Tree DNA website and I am looking for volunteers! DNA testing is an extremely powerful tool when used in combination with traditional research. You can read more about this here:
Y-DNA tests demystified
Y-DNA is passed from father to son largely unchanged. Therefore by comparing the Y-DNA results of a number of males with Cowlings from different places we can:
* Discover which family trees are related
* Discover information which may solve research problems, and/or resolve brick walls
* Sort out multiple families found in the same location
* Confirm or get clues regarding migrations
* Confirm suspected events, such as illegitimacy and adoption
* Find any mistaken connections in family trees
* Validate family history research
* Bridge gaps in the paper records
* Confirm surname variants or find previously unknown variants
* Discover information to define the major branches of the tree going back to the origin of the surname
* Discover information about the evolution of the surname
* Discover clues regarding the origin of the surname
* Combine results with research in early records to determine the number of points of origin for the surname
There are endless possibilities!
You can find the DNA project here: Cowling DNA Project.
If you are considering a test do get in touch as discounts are available. If you have already tested with Family Tree DNA then do PLEASE join the project.
You may find our other Guild websites of interest: