Surname Saturday

Surname Saturday – Cowgill

The surname Cowgill appears in my tree thirteen times at the moment.  None of the people are in my direct line of ancestors.  They are wives, husbands or in-laws of cousins – so not close.

According to surnamedb the name has two possible derivations.

The first is from the early Medieval English or Olde French ‘cokille’ which means ‘a shell’ or ‘cockle’.  It is suggested that this surname may have been applied to pilgrims to the Shrine of St. James of Compostella who sewed shells on their clothes as a sign of pilgrimage.  A cockle-hat (with a shell stuck on it) was also worn as a sign of pilgrimage.  Here’s an article called the Way of St. James in Wikipedia – so make up your own mind.

The second possibility is that Cockle is a locational name (from Cockhill) from a place of the same name in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  The name having been corrupted to Cowgill or Cockell in some directories.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Cockel, which was dated 1198 in the Pipe Rolls of Northampton.

Alternatively information can be found on the Internet suggesting that the name also has origins in Scotland.

A family in the Pictish tribe of ancient Scotland is said to be the first to use the name Cowgill.  They lived in the lands of Cargill in east Perthshire where the family at one time had extensive territories.

In medieval Scotland names were more often spelled according to sound than any regular set of rules.  So over the years Cowgill has been spelled as Cargill, Cargyle and Kergylle amongst others.

Some noteable Cowgill’s include:-

Bryan Cowgill (1927-2008) – BBC television executive and pioneer behind Grandstand and Match of The Day

George L Cowgill (b1929) – American anthropologist and archaeologist

Collin Brannen Cowgill (b1986) – American professional baseball player

Surname Saturday – Brockbank

I have eleven people with the surname Brockbank in my family tree.  The connection begins with  the marriage of my 2x great grand aunt, Ellen Carradice, to Robert Brockbank on Christmas Eve 1864 in Kendal, Westmorland.

According to surnamedb Brockbank is a medieval name of English origin with two possible meanings.

The first suggestion is that it is a dialectal variant of ‘Brocklebank’ which itself is a locational name from a place near Wigton in Cumbria.  The derivation is said to be from the Middle English ‘brock’ meaning a badger and the Northern Middle English ‘bank’, meaning bank or slope.  It is apparently descriptive of a bank that was a favouite haunt of badgers.

The second suggestion is that Brockbank may be a topographical name for a dweller by the bank of a brook – ‘brock’ being a variant of brook from the Old English pre 7th Century ‘broc’ meaning a brook or water meadow.

OK – did you follow that?

The first recorded spelling of the family name is said to be that of Thomas Brokesbank dated 1379 on the Poll Tax records of Yorkshire.

A surname search of the 1911 census produces a list of 1334 people, predominantly from Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland.

Here’s a couple of links to famous ‘Brockbank’s’

Russell Brockbank – cartoonist

William Brockbank M.D. – The Scouting Doctor

Surname Saturday – Almond

The surname Almond appears in my tree eleven times at the moment.  The name is found in my ancestry and also my wife’s.  As far as I can tell so far there is no direct connection between the two family lines.  My ancestors are found in Lancashire and those of my wife are in Lincolnshire.

According to surnamedb website the surname is of Old French and Anglo Saxon origin.  It is said to have two possible sources.

Firstly, it may be from the English name for someone from Germany.  This is derived from the Anglo Norman French word “aleman” meaning German or “alemayne” meaning Germany.  This is said to be a Germanic tribal name, probably meaning “all the men”.

The second source is from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name “ Athelmund”.  This is made up of two elements – “athel” meaning noble, and “mund” meaning protection.

There is no evidence of any connection with the almond nut or tree.

The personal name was first recorded as “Almund” and “Ailmundus” in the Domesday Book of 1086.  The surname was first recorded in the late 13th Century when Thomas Ailmun can be found in the “Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire” dated 1279.

William and Awdry Almond were some of the earliest settlers in the New World, leaving London on the “Abigail” in JUne 1635, bound for New England.

In the 1911 Census for England and Wales there are at least 5147 people recorded with the name Almond.

Surname Saturday – Cottam

I have only one person with the surname Cottam in my family tree – Jane Cottam is my 3x great grandmother.

Jane was born about 1806 in Over Darwen, Lancashire.  So far I haven’t found a record of her birth and have no information about her parents.

According to surnamedb Cottam is of English locational origin.  It is said to date from Anglo-Saxon times and comes from one of a number of similarly named settlements throughout England.

There is Coton in Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire; Cotton in Cheshire, Shropshire and Northamptonshire; Coatham in Durham and the North Riding of Yorkshire; Cotham in Nottinghamshire; and Cottam in Nottinghamshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

All of these names stem from the Old English aet cotum – which means at the cottages.  So,then, people who lived at or near cottages.

There are many spelling variations of the name including – Cotton, Coton, Cotten, Coten, Cottan, Cottain, Cottone and Cottane.  A bit of a nightmare for a One Name Study perhaps.

Early recordings of the name are believed to be Ralph de Cottum in 1212 in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire; on January 16th 1701 Sarah, daughter of William Cottham, was christened in Great Mitton, Yorkshire; William Cottam married Mary Ellesker on the 29th November 1655 at Brantingham, Yorkshire.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Randulf de Cotton, which was dated 1185 in The Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire.

It is not a very common name these days.  According to sources on the Internet there are currently only 2574 people in the UK with the name Cottam.  That is an increase of only 752 since the 1881 census when there were 1822 people named Cottam.

Despite it being not very common there has been some noteworthy people bearing the name Cottam over the years.

• Major-General Nicholas Cottam CB, OBE (b. 1951) – British Army Officer

• Robert “Bob” Michael Henry Cottam (b. 1944) – former English cricketer

• Harold Thomas Cottam (1891-1984) – English wireless operator on the RMS Carpathia who heard the SOS from the sinking RMS Titanic

• Francis Cottam (1900-1987) – English cricketer

Surname Saturday – Mason

I have four people with the surname Mason in my family tree at the moment.  None of them appear to be related to each other.

Esther Mason is my 3x great grandmother and she Married John Dinsdale at Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire in 1806.  Henrietta Mason is another 3x great grandmother and she married Thomas Buckley at Keighley, West Yorkshire in 1820.

The surname is the 96th most common in Great Britain.  According to surnamedb Mason is a status and occupational surname which originally described a skilled stone mason.  The derivation is from the pre 8th century Old French word “masson”, probably introduced into England by the Norman-French after the conquest of 1066.  Indeed before that time few places in Britain were built in stone, so the French largely introduced both the word and the skill.

The surname is said to be one of the earliest recorded and in a surprising number of different spellings.

Early examples of the name include – John Macun in the building accounts of King Henry 1st of England in the year 1130, and Ace le Mazun, in the Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire in 1193.

Some other interesting Masons include James Mason (1779–1827) who was a supporter of Charles James Fox in the campaign to abolish slavery and liberate Catholics from the penal laws, and Sir John Mason (1503–1566), who attended Oxford university and worked his way up to become a royal ambassador and Chancellor of Oxford University – which was not bad considering his father was a cowherd from Abingdon!

Spellings of the surname both in Britain and France include Macon, Mason, Massen, Masson, Machen, Machent, Machin, and Machon.

Some examples from surviving church registers are those of Elizabeth Masson christened at St. Margaret’s Westminster, on July 21st 1540, and Awdry Mason who married William Elyat at that same church on June 10th 1548.

Among the many prominent figures with this surname was George Mason (1725 – 1792), the American statesman who framed the Virginia Bill of Rights.  This was later was used as a model by Thomas Jefferson when he drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  The first recorded spelling of the family name is possibly that of Richard Machun,  dated about the year 1120, in charters of the Danelaw, for the county of Lincolnshire.

More recently other noteworthy Mason’s include:-

Roy Mason (b. 1924) – British Labour politician and former Cabinet minister

Benedict Mason (b. 1954) – British composer

Nicholas Berkeley “Nick” Mason (b. 1944) – English drummer for Pink Floyd

The name has also been used in my family as a first name.  Two descendants of Thomas Buckley and Henrietta Mason bear the name Mason Buckley.

Surname Saturday – Stowell

The Stowell surname in my tree is from my maternal side of the family.  The earliest person with this surname that I have been able to find so far is my 3x great grandfather William Stowell.  As far as I can tell he was born about 1802 in the small hamlet of Bell Busk in the Yorkshire Dales, England.

I have a total of 23 Stowell’s including my 2x great grandfather John Stowell and his daughter Ellen Stowell, my great grandmother.

Since then the name has been given as a first name to one of my uncles.

According to surnamedb Stowell is a locational name from a number of places named with the Olde English pre 7th Century “stan”, meaning stony, and “wella”, meaning a spring or stream.

These places include Stowell near Northleach in Gloucestershire, recorded as Stanuuella in the Domesday Book of 1086; Stowell in Somerset, appearing as Stanwelle in the Domesday book; Stowell in Wiltshire, entered as Stowelle in the Charter Rolls of that county in 1300; and also Stawell near Bridgewater in Somerset, recorded as Stawelle in the Domesday Book and Stanwelle in the 1279 Hundred Rolls of Somerset.

My Stowell’s migrated across the Pennines in the 19th Century and latterly are to be found in the Burnley and Padiham areas of Lancashire.

There are few variant spellings of the name including Stawell and Stowelle.

Early example of the surname include: Richard de Stawell (Wiltshire, 1273) and Lecia Stowelle (Cambridgeshire, 1273).  In 1591, one John Stowell of Somerset was entered in the “Oxford University Register”.  The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Stawell.  This was dated 1272, in the Hundred Rolls of Somerset

Surname Saturday – Stirzaker

I have four people with the name Stirzaker in my family tree.  It’s not a name I have researched yet.  So the earliest person I have is Richard who married my great aunt, Isabel Musgrove in 1927.  The marriage is registered at Preston in Lancashire.

According to the website surnamedb Stirzaker is a “curious” surname of old Scandinavian origin.  It is said to be a locational name from a place called Stiracre in the parish of Garstang in Lancashire.

The place name is believed to come from the old Norse personal name “Styrr” together with the Olde English pre 7th century “aecer” meaning ploughed field or cultivated land – in old Norse this would be “akr”.  Therefore – Styrr’s akr.

Early examples of the surname include: Johannes de Steresaker (Yorkshire, 1379), and William Steresaker, “The Corpus Christi Guild”, York, dated 1477.

In modern times the name has four spelling variations: Stirzaker, Starzaker, Sterzaker and Sturzaker.

On September 5th 1567, Anthony Stirzaker and Elisabeth Philipson were married at Garstang, Lancashire, and on November 6th 1568, Alice Stirzaker married James Orton also at Garstang.

In 1664, Robert Sturzaker of Garstang was recorded in the “Exchequer Depositions”, Lancashire, and in 1668, Evan Pilkinton, of Sturzaker, in Garstang, was noted in the Lancashire Wills Records held at Richmond.

The surname appears in London Church Registers of the 17th and 18th Centuries: entries include the christening of Ellen, daughter of Joseph and Isabella Stirzaker, at St. Andrew Holborn, on January 14th 1703.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Steresacre, which was dated 1332, in the “Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire”.