The surname of COWELL was a locational name 'of Cowgill' a hamlet in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Local names usually denoted where a man held land and indicated where he actually lived. Also known to be a derivative of 'Cugele or Cule', a garment worn by monks, a cowl. A maker of cowls. Early records of the name mention William de Coule, who was recorded in London in the year 1314. Johannes de Cowell, of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name has many variant spellings which include Cowle, Coule and Kewle. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. A notable member of the name was Edward Byles Cowell (1826 - 1903), English Sansskrit scholar, born in Ipswich. From 1856 he was professor of History in the new Presidency College at Calcutta, he edited and translated several important texts. Also mentioned is Henry Dixon Cowell (1897 - 1965). American composer, born in Menlo Park, California. Noted as a leader of the avant-garde in American music. He composed 20 symphonies and a large number of other orchestral works. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter, which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Arms registered Durham.
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