This surname of COWDERY was of the locational group of surnames from either Coudrai in Seine-Maritime or Coudray in Eure, placenames in France. Cowdray in Sussex seems to have been named after one of these two. The origin of the name comes from the Old French 'Coudraie' meaning a hazel copse. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Early records of the name mention John de la Corderie, who was documented during the reign of Edward II (1272-1307). Peter de Corderoy of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax in 1379. The acquisition of surnames in Europe has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure. On the whole, the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working classes and the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in rural areas. These facts suggest that the origin of surnames is associated with the emergence of bureaucracies. As long as land tenure, military service, and fealty were matters of direct relationship between a lord and his vassals, the need did not arise for fixed distinguishing epithets to mark out one carl from another. But as societies became more complex, and as such matters as the management of tenure and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to have a more complex system of nomenclature to distinguish one individual from another.
Later instances of the name include John Cordrey of County Lancashire who registered at Oxford University in 1519. Francis, son of Andrew Cowdrye was buried at St. Thomas the Apostle in London in the year 1618. William Wytlye and Ann Cordrye were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1692. 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.
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