Cowdenbeath

Cowdenbeath BEA DFL S NT165916 1 384 120m

Codane Beitht 1507 Dunf. G. Ct. Bk 48
Baith-Mowbray 1563 RMS iv no. 1476
the landis of Cowdennyes Baith 1557 x 1585 Dunf. Reg. p. 488 [to Helen (Kil)pont and James Moubray]
Baithe-Moubray alias Cowdounesbaithe 1626 Retours (Fife) no. 380 [in parish of Dunfermline; William Walker]
Cowdounesbaithe 1626 Retours (Fife) no. 380 [in parish of Dunfermline; William Walker]
Cowdon Beth 1642 Gordon MS Fife
Cowdonsbaith 1646 Henderson 1865, 18
Coudonbeth 1654 Blaeu (Pont) West Fife
Cowdon heth 1654 Blaeu (Gordon) Fife [the h for b error is consistent with his Leuchats heith for Leuchatsbeath BEA]
Coudounsbaith 1655 Retours (Fife) no. 851 [John Moreis]
Cowdenbeath 1775 Ainslie/Fife
Cowdenbeath 1828 SGF

pn Cowden + en Beath

For the personal name Colden or Cowden, see Black 1946, s.n. The fact that several sixteenth- and seventeenth-century forms of the name occur with a genitival –(i)s strongly suggest that the specific is a personal name, thus conforming to the general pattern of Beath place-names. One John Coudone is mentioned as a burgess of Dunfermline in 1478 (Dunf. Reg. Ct. Bk. 173).

While the Cowdens are associated with these lands at the very beginning of the sixteenth century, the Moubray connection appears to have been established around the time of the Reformation. William Moubray (Mewbray) is listed in 1532 as one of the tenants of lands ‘lyand besyid the toune of Dunfermlyng halden of the Abbat and convent of the samyn’ (Dunf. Reg. Ct. Bk. 62). He appears frequently as a sergeant in the Dunfermline burgh records from 1519 (Dunf. Recs. {39}, {78} et passim).

Cowdenbeath was chosen as the name of the new mining town in the later nineteenth century at a public meeting, and in 1890, also as a result of a public meeting, the name was chosen for the new burgh: ‘At the time when the coal trade started to boom, Cowdenbeath was divided into four districts named after various farms. One part was called Cowdenbeath, after the farm which was near Central Park (the Football Pitch) and another was called White Threshes[66] after a farm to the south of the town. Another area was called Foulford and another Kirkford, which lay near the parish kirk of Beath, where the Great North Road crossed the Foulford Burn.

At a time when the village was starting to take on the proportions of a town it was felt by the inhabitants that the time had come for the district to come under one name. A public meeting was called for this purpose and the choice narrowed down to two names – Cowdenbeath and White Threshes. The former was the ultimate choice. Later in 1890, when the question of the name arose when it was proposed the village become a burgh, two names arose – Cowdenbeath and Foulford – and again Cowdenbeath was chosen’ (Cowdenbeath Community Council 1991, 6). It was the mining of iron ore in 1850 which led to the uncovering of great reserves of coal. (ibid.).

Cowdenend, which is on the Aberdour/Dunfermline parish boundary beside Hill of Beath, is puzzling, however, since it first occurs in 1775 on Ainslie/Fife (as Cowdenend), long before Cowdenbeath was scarcely anything more than a farm c.3 km to the north-east. It is nevertheless best seen as marking the end of the extended lands of Cowdenbeath at this time. OS Pathf. Cowden Knowe, beside Cowdenend, was probably inspired by Cowdenend.

Cowdenbeath is discussed in Nicolaisen 1970, s.n., where he leaves the question as to the origin of the first element open, but rightly regards its derivation from G calltainn ‘hazel’ as ‘unlikely’.[67]

/ˈkəudən biθ/ or /ˌkəudənˈbiθ/

This place-name appeared in printed volume 1