Meaning and Origin of: Cowley

Family name origins & meanings

  • English : habitational name from any of the various places called Cowley. One in Gloucestershire is named with Old English ‘cow’ + lēah ‘woodland clearing’; two in Derbyshire have Old English col ‘(char)coal’ as the first element; and one near London has it from Old English cofa‘shelter’, ‘bay’ (see Cove) or the personal name Cofa. The largest group, however, with examples in Buckinghamshire, Devon, Oxfordshire, and Staffordshire, were apparently named as ‘the wood or clearing of Cufa’; however, in view of the number of places named with this element, it is possible that it conceals a topographical term as well as a personal name.
  • Irish : reduced form of Macaulay (see McCauley).