Coubrough? Cowbrough?

Who are we?

George Black's book The Surnames of Scotland is the authority on the origins of Scots surnames. Here's what he has to say about who we are:

"COUBROUGH. A now not very common surname found in Lanarkshire and Midlothian. It is a shortened form of MacCoubrey, q.v. David Cowbratht witnessed testament of inventory of Catherine Lauder, 1515 (Swinton, p. xci). The name also occurs as Coulbrough and Cowbrough in Stirling (1511, Cowbroch). Euphame Cubrughe in Badow, parish of Calder, 1669 (Campsie). William Cubrugh, a Perthshire heritor, 1688 (RPC., 3. ser. XIII, p.332). John Couburgh in Balglairosh, parish of St. Ninian's, and two more recorded there (Stirling).

"MACCOUBREY, MACCOUBRIE. G. Mac Cuithbreith 'son of Cuthbert,' q.v. Henry McCowthry in Galloway, 1539 (RSS., II, 2967). The Isle of Man has Coobragh from MacGiolla Cobraght, 'son of Cuthbert's servant.' The name of John Makopery, witness in Bute, 1513 (RMS., III, 1321), is perhaps another spelling."


Where did we start from?

Since at least 1650, the name seems to have been mostly in the Stirling area of central Scotland. There were a few others in Perth, Glasgow, Fife, and possibly South Leith, as early as 1579. The wide variation in spelling makes it difficult to be sure. This is especially true of Scots records before civil registration began in 1855. Very few church records gave the names of the bride's or groom's parents, unless one of the happy couple happened to belong to local gentry, or happened to belong to a churchman's family.

Most of the families I have tracked so far seem to have lived in or around the parishes of Campsie, Falkirk, and Strathblane before 1700. There may have been one family in Alloa parish, Clackmannan, starting in about 1691. There seems to be no record of them there after about 1725, but the name of the parish crops up again as the birthplace of a Matthew Coubrough who went to Australia in about 1866, and his brother William. Later, there were branches in Killearn, Kilsyth, Balfron, and Buchlyvie parishes in the county of Stirling, and in Eastwood, Neilston, and Renfrew parishes of Renfrew, as well as Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Selkirk and Galashiels parishes of Selkirk.


Where are we now?

I originally started tracing my own family line, in the early 1970s, in an effort to figure out where I fit in the grand scheme of things. Many Coubroughs who grew up outside Scotland, as I did, also grew up believing that, outside of some vague, shadowy Scots ancestors, they were the only ones with their surname. I and most of my cousins were raised with the belief that all Canadians of our name were descendants of my great-grandparents, Mathew and Elizabeth (Brown) Coubrough, thus, all directly related to each other. I have since found that this is not quite true. There are at least five separate Coubrough families here in Canada, plus at least one Cowbrough line. Only one of them is connected to mine within the last five generations, though some are connected to each other. (So far, these Coubrough and Cowbrough lines do not include any whose Coubrough ancestor was a woman because I haven't found them yet.)

With this discovery, it became obvious that we were not the only Coubroughs in the world. Though most of the old records, especially the Parish Records of Scotland, gave several spellings of the name, even within the same family, there seemed to be two main spellings. Coubrough was the most common, but there was also a large group  that used Cowbrough. This, coupled with the fact that even today the names is not all that common, convinced me that all those bearing either version must be related somewhere along the way.

After I had been searching on my own for some time, a fortuitous Internet search on my surname brought me into contact with John, a fourth-cousin- once-removed in Colorado, USA, who was also of the opinion that we are all connected somewhere. He was able to supply a couple of missing links to our own common ancestors, the earliest of whom was born about 1750, probably in Campsie parish. With the help of a circa 1881 genealogy that had belonged to his aunt, we were on our way. 

We are now a group of about 8 searchers who live in Canada, the US, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. We have sorted out three main lines, though we still have a lot of "strays." Two lines start before 1700 and run to the present. The other one starts about 1750 and also runs to the present. We have linked several living, breathing descendants to their ancestral lines, and to each other, in places as diverse as Scotland (of course), Canada, Australia, the United States of America, New Zealand, Uruguay, England, and South Africa. Several hopeful souls are waiting for the next big connection discovery, in case it might be theirs.


Why this page?

The purpose of this page is to publish what we find, and to invite other descendants of the name to share their families' stories. If your name is here, we all want to hear from you. If your family is not here, we really want to hear from you. You are our best source of information about your family. Please be assured that nothing is published without the permission of the submitter, and then only names and family relationships for living people. All members of this project are volunteers. That is, we never ask for money to support our cause. If you would like to know more about our project, just click the e-mail link below to send me a message.


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