COWAN - HISTORY OF SURNAME
Entry in Black's
COWAN, Cowans,Cowen. Common surnames in Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, and
other lowland counties.
(1) Sometimes explained as from Scots cowan, a dry-stone-diker, but I doubt this explanation.
(2) It may be a corruption of Colquhoun, the common pronunciation
of which is Cohoon. Mr. Alexander Cowan, father of Sir John Cowan of
Beeslack is said to have left on record that many of his grandfather's
books bore the name of Colquhoun.
(3) In the south Highlands the 'Mac' of Macillechomhghain disappears from the name and in Argyllshire, e.g. Iain MacComhain
becomes Iain Comhan in Gaelic while the English equivalent is Cowan.
Couen in 1687. The name James Cowhen, chaplain in North Berwick, 1560
(CMN) is most likely from another source. There was an old family of
Cowane in Stirling ( The Stirling Anyiquary, v.2,p 168-178)
Cowan's hospital in Sirling was founded in 1639 by John Cowan, a
merchant there, for the support of twelve decayed Guild Brethern (Nimmo, History of Stirlingshire, 2 ed. 1 p.346).
For a different view :
Entry in The Scottish Nation
Eminent Cowan Families
Tom Paterson - Last updated 25 Jan 2019