Sunday, December 05, 2010

Surname Saturday - Cowie

One of the family lines I'm researching is my Cowie line on my Dads side from Buckie in Banffshire, Scotland who are mainly fishermen.

The problem this time is not spelling as I've thankfully only come across a couple of options Cowie, Cowey, and possibly Coue or Couie. It's more a question of the number of different families in a small area sharing the same surname and profession but not necessarily related.

The electoral roll for Buckie has over 200 Cowies and searching the 1881 Census on Ancestry has 571 Cowies just for the Parish of Rathven although narrowing for fishermen gives a slightly more hopeful 139.

The answer in that part of the country to help them work out who they were talking about was to have 'tee names' or boat nicknames that can be passed down familes and often turn up in vital records and newspapers as found in a snippet from the Banffshire Advertiser of 1902 transcribed by Allan Fraser for Buckie

May 29
An article title -'An Aged Crew of Buckie Fishermen'
Buckie harbour all but deserted of herring boats apart from 2 or 3 of the old scaffies that are fast disappearing. The crews of these with up to date character of the boats but one of these, 7 the Margaret would if met on the high seas probably cause many a fish to rub their eyes a second time thinking that it was a phantom boat.
The crew of 8 has been got together by John Cowie 'Carrot' as skipper, who says, "We don’t go out but when we like".
The total age of the crew is 567 with and average age of 71. They are Messrs - John Cowie,'Carrot' 70, Alex Cowie, 'Dosie', 74, William Cowie, 'Dosie', 72, Alex Cowie, 'Dougal', 72, George Thomson, 'Law' 70, James Cowie, 'Carrot',70, George Cowie, 'Carrot', 65 and George Cowie, 'Cornal' 74.
That seven out of the 8 men are Cowies illustrates the necessity of tee names among fishermen.

My tee names (so far) - Cowie 'Coup', Cowie 'Rosie', Smith 'Peter',

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