The surname of COWHARDE was an occupational name 'the cow-herd' a great North English surname. The name was originally derived from the Old English CUHYRDE and HIERDE. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identity individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. Early records of the name Cuward de Blakepet who was documented in 1198 in Berkshire, and Thomas le Cuherde, appears in 1255 in County Essex. John Kuhirde was documented in the year 1275 in London. William le Kukerde, County Cambridge, 1273. Cecelia Cowehird of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name include John Coward of Ulverston who was listed in the Wills at Lancashire in 1622. Hellen Cowart of Out Rawcliffe was listed in the same Wills in the year 1663. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. A notable member of the name was Sir Noel Pierce Coward (1899-1973) the English actor, dramatist and composer of light music, born in Teddington. At the age of 14 he appeared in Peter Pan, and thereafter in other plays, including many of his own. His first play 'I'll Leave It to You' (1920) was followed by many successes. He produced several films based on his own scripts, and published two autobiographies. The name is also spelt Cowart.
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