Earlier Cowie generations had only a vague idea about where their roots lay. This extract (taken from a letter written by Richard Cowie during a visit to his family in Newcastle and Hetton) is substantially correct, but far from precise. "Father" was Edward Cowie (husband of Mary Surtees); "Sally" was Mary's youngest sister. The reference to "Obadiah" was key to tracing the family line back to Scotland.
I had a talk with Sally about my mothers family. Grandmother Surtees family lived in North Shields. Her father was an Anchor Smith. He removed to Bedlington (nr Morpeth). Afterwards her father and mother and a large family went to America except my Grandmother who was too nervous. Her maiden name was Todd. So all Grannies relations are in the States.
Father added just a little more about the Cowie branch of the family tree. They were fishermen at Leith, then they crossed to Solway Firth; from there to Fatfield in Durham leaving their fishing and became miners. One of the family, Obadiah Cowie, was a Colliery Manager, and was a Prim[itive] Meth[odist]. Family scattered in Durham County ever since. Father said our family originally came from the Highlands, evidently farmers having to do with Cows - hence the origin of our name.