Finding the Origin of the Coldwell and Couldwell families

1. Using the 1881 Census

The maps on this page are drawn using data from the 1881 Census produced by the Archer Software program “Surname Atlas” and show the total numbers of people living in each “poor law” area on census night. The “UK map” shows Coldwell residents of England, Scotland and Wales and the map beneath is a blow-up of the Yorkshire West Riding area where most of the residents lived. The concentration of Coldwell people in the Huddersfield, Yorkshire poor law area tends to confirm evidence of early records that the Coldwell name originated in the Holme valley region and probably the hamlet of Austonley (See map).

1881 UK map a


1881 Yorks map
1881 Census. No. of COLDWELL residents living in the Yorkshire West Riding region and “hinterland” within the poor law areas


In 1881 in England and Wales the total number of living Coldwell people (all ages) was 1311 and the number for Couldwell was 261.

A similar map for the Couldwell members shows a concentration in the southern part of Yorkshire W R namely in the Poor Law areas of Wortley; Ecclesall Bierlow and Sheffield. The close geographical location of Coldwell and Couldwell people, lack of the Couldwell name in early records and the confusion between names in the parish and census records tends to confirm that Couldwell is a variant name of Coldwell and not a distinct family. Note there are about the same number of Couldwell people in the Wortley poor law area as Coldwell yet there is an absence of any Couldwell families in the Huddersfield area. This tends to indicate that the Coldwell surname probably changed due to an accidental misspelling in the area covered by the Penistone parish register (Wortley Poor Law area).

Both the Coldwell and Couldwell families have migrated into the Sheffield area sometime before 1881 probably in search of work in the steel industry and cutlery manufacture. Later the Couldwell name has intensified in Sheffield.

2. UK Family location from 1984 to 2005 BMD registrations

The number of Coldwell and Couldwell UK Birth, Marriage and Death (BMD) registrations in the period totals 1857. The Counties with more than 1% of the events and the actual number of BMD registrations in the main Yorkshire towns are listed in the tables below. Yorkshire clearly remains the dominant county of residence with the majority living in Huddersfield and Sheffield. This is further confirmation that the origin of the surname is in the old West Riding of Yorkshire.

By County

Cheshire 1.0
Middlesex 1.0
Buckinghamshire 1.1
Midlothian 1.1
Lincolnshire 1.2
Norfolk 1.3
Devon 1.5
Gloucestershire 1.5
Somerset 1.7
Herefordshire 1.8
Warwickshire 1.9
Derbyshire 2.1
Hampshire 2.7
Essex 2.9
Lancashire 3.0
Kent 3.0
Northumberland 3.2
County Durham 3.5
Sussex 3.5
Surrey 3.9
Yorkshire 43.9


Wakefield 19
Dewsbury 21
Doncaster 33
Bradford 41
Halifax 49
Leeds 51
Rotherham 54
Barnsley 81
Huddersfield 184
Sheffield 221