This famous name is of French origin and derives either from the villages of Coudrai in Seine Inferiere or Coudray in Eure, both Normandy or from the village of Cowdray in Sussex, a word which replaced the original English 'sengle'. The word 'Coudraie' in its original spelling means 'the hazel copse', and is of pre 7th century origins. The name development in England has included: Richard de Coudrey (1220, Hampshire), Henry de la Coudrey (1279, Stafford), whilst the London records of the 17th century indicate spellings as: Cowdray, Cowdrey, Cowdry, Cowdre, Caudrey, Cawdrey, Cawdry, Cowdery, Coudrey etc. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Engelram de Coudrai. which was dated 1170 The Records of Rievalaux Abbey, Yorkshire. during the reign of King Henry II 'The Deceiver of the Irish' 1154-1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.