Cowans or Cowan?
Records suggest that the family’s surname was originally Cowans. James who lived at Knockroe House was always James Cowan while other members of the family appear to have chosen either Cowan or Cowans.
During the 1960s Alan Rotherford visited the archives at Newcastle-upon-Tyne to researched his Cowan ancestors. He went back as far as James and Eleanor Cowans at Netherwitton. With the help of the internet the family has been traced back one more generation to John Cowans ?-? who married Isabel Smith 1747-1824 on 19 July 1776 at Morebattle, Roxboroughshire, Scotland.
Scotland to England
While they were living in Morebattle John and Isabel had seven offspring. They moved south across the border to Netherwitton, Northumberland with the majority of their offspring sometime after their youngest son was born in 1789.
John and Isabel’s eldest son James Cowans 1777-1859 married twice. In 1810 James married Isabella Dodds who died in 1816, the same year that their only(?) child was born and died. On 24 May 1823 James married Eleanor Dixon and they had seven recorded offspring. James and Eleanor Cowans lived at Parkhead Farm, Netherwitton for the rest of their lives.
Meeting the Anderson family
About 1850 Robert, the brother of James 1777-1859 moved to the Alwinton area in Upper Coquetdale. James and Eleanor’s second son James Cowans 1828-1907 moved to the Alwinton area with his uncle. At the time of the 1851 census James 1828-1907 was described as a ‘servant’ at Carlecroft, home of the Anderson family where Margaret Anderson and Jane Anderson were ‘daughters of the head of the household’. The ‘head of the household’ was Matthew Anderson, a widower who was living elsewhere with his in-laws.
England to Ireland with the Anderson family
Marriage of James Cowans to Jane Anderson
In the early 1850’s the Anderson family moved to County Mayo. James Cowans 1828-1907 went as the husband of Jane Anderson, though by 2015 no evidence of their marriage had been found.