The surname of COWHER 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 identify 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.
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.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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