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Surname Coward - Meaning and Origin

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iGENEA DNA Test: An Emotional Rollercoaster to Ancestral Exploration and the Legacy of Being a Coward

An extraordinary journey of self-discovery assisted by iGENEA's DNA test evoked deep emotions ranging from the anticipation of results, sweeping respect towards my surname Coward, to overwhelming connections with distant relatives. It unraveled the rich tapestry of my lineage, taking me on a rollercoaster ride through my ancestral past.

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Coward: What does the surname Coward mean?

The last name Coward is an English surname of Norman origins, dating back to the 11th century. The name is derived from the Norman French word "couard", meaning brave and courageous. Historically, this surname was given to individuals of Norman ancestry, who were brave and courageous in battle. Over time, the meaning of the surname has changed slightly, with “couard” now commonly interpreted to mean cowardly or timid.

In the United States, the Coward surname was first recorded in Virginia in 1637, likely brought to the New World by a Norman settler. The surname quickly spread throughout the colonies, and today there are many different spellings of the surname found in the United States. Variations of the name include Cowherd, Caward, Coulard and Cowher.

The Coward surname was brought to America and other countries mainly through their Norman ancestors, and is thought to be derived from a heroic and valiant past. Although the meaning of the name has shifted to cowardliness, individuals with this surname can still be proud of their proud and valiant historical roots.

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Coward: Where does the name Coward come from?

The surname Coward can today be found in many parts of the world. It is particularly prevalent in England and Wales, where it was once the 533rd most popular surname. In the United States, it is far less common, with the name not even cracking the top 20,000 surnames in the 2000 U.S. Census.

The Coward surname can also be found in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In Canada, it ranks around 8,600th in terms of popularity. In Australia, the surname ranks around 6,700th; and in New Zealand, the last name is around 1,400th most common.

The name Coward is likely derived from an old English word meaning “watchman” or “guardian”. Many early instances of the surname were found in the northern parts of England, particularly around the counties of Durham and Northumberland.

The earliest recorded instance of the name was as far back as 1203, when William le le Cowerde was noted in the Chancery Rolls of England. The name itself has likely been in existence for much longer, as it is known to have ancient roots.

Today, the Coward surname is still quite common in England and can also be found in other parts of the world. It has a long and varied history, and is still a much-loved name by many Cowards around the world today.

Variations of the surname Coward

The surname Coward has various origins, spellings, and variants, although it is commonly thought to be of English origin. The current spelling of Coward appears to have derived from two possible sources: The Old English 'cu' meaning ‘cow’, and Old French 'warde', with the combined meaning 'Cowherd'. The spelling 'Cowherd' is also found, while the variant 'Cowheard' has been recorded.

Another possible origin for Coward is the Scottish/Gaelic 'Gobhard', with the meaning 'smith'. Variants of this spelling include 'Gobhard', 'Gobbard', 'Goburd', and 'Gobard'.

Other possible origins are Norman French, Dutch, and Irish. The Norman French variant is 'Le Coudert', with variants 'Coudert', 'Coudaire', 'Courgeois', 'de Coudert', 'Caudert', 'Codert', and 'Cordair'. Dutch variants include 'Kooijart' and 'Kooijard', while Irish variants include 'McGeough', 'McGeoge', 'Cubbard', 'Cubbarde', 'Cubit' and 'Cubhard'.

In some cases, the surname Coward might also have been used as an occupational name to refer to an occupational 'warder' or guard. Variants include 'Le Ward', 'Ward', 'Warde', 'Le Wards', 'Word', 'de Ward', 'de la Warde' and 'de la Ward'. The Welsh surname 'Gutridge' resembles the surname Coward and may have derived from the Welsh 'curad', meaning 'warden'.

The numerous spellings and variants of the surname Coward may appear confusing, however it is important to remember that the original name and spelling may have changed over the course of time.

Famous people with the name Coward

  • Noel Coward: Noel Coward (1899-1973) was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his iconic wit and charm. He wrote some of the most famous plays and musicals of the twentieth century including ‘Blithe Spirt’, ‘Private Lives’, and ‘Cavalcade’. He won a Grammy Award for his song ‘Mad About The Boy’ and was made a knight of the British Empire in 1969.
  • John Coward: John Coward (1867-1925) was a British physicist who studied the effects of high frequency radio waves on the human body. He is credited with the invention of the television amplifier. He wrote the book ‘The Theory of Radio-Activity’ which was published in 1897.
  • Richard Coward: Richard Coward (1912-1998) was a British composer, pianist, and conductor. He was principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 1980 and was the conductor of the Queen’s Hall Concert Orchestra from 1956 to 1965. He wrote the song ‘Let Autumn In’ in 1958 which was included in the musical ‘Brigadoon’.
  • Charles Coward: Charles Coward (1902-1973) was a British businessman and politician who served as Member of Parliament for Bristol East from 1959 to 1964.
  • Henry Coward: Henry Coward (1875-1957) was a British naturalist and sculptor. He is best known for his work in creating statues of wild animals, particularly giraffes. He was also a member of the Royal Geographical Society from 1924 to 1954.
  • Harold Coward: Harold Coward (1913-2002) was an English professor of religious studies at the University of Waterloo. He wrote more than 30 books on Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religious topics and was widely considered to be an expert on comparative religion.

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