There are several theories about the meaning of the name “Cowan”. In the 1840s a tree stood at Cowan, with “Cowan” carved on it. Over the years it became well known as the Cowan Tree. An escaped convict named Cowan crossed the Hawkesbury in the early 1800s, and was in the area. The 1828 census lists two convicts called Cowan. The name “Cowan” appeared in document form when William Bean applied for a grant of land near the creek in 1826. It is unlikely the convict carved his name in the tree, but it is possible that his name became applied to the area, as in e.g. “the place where Cowan was captured”, or a similar phrase. It is a word with an Aboriginal meaning, “the big water”, or “opposite” or “the other side”. There is a place in Scotland with the name also.
Source: Hornsby Shire Historical Society, “The origin of Berowra and Cowan”. Local Colour, V.4.No.11, P7
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