EAST COWICK, in the parish of Snaith, wapentake of Osgoldcross, liberty and bailiwick of Cowick and Snaith, (Cowick Hall, the seat of Lord Viscount Downe), 2 miles ESE. of Snaith, 8 from Howden. Pop. 905.
This is an ancient seat of an honourable family, who came over with the Conqueror, and appear to be descended from Sir Paine Dawnay, of Dawnay Castle, in Normandy; and from him descended Sir William Dawnay, who was made a general in the 4th of Richard I. anno 1192, at Acon, in Cyprus, where having killed a chief Prince of the Saracens, and afterwards slaying a lion, he cut off a paw, and presented it to the King, who, as a mark of his approbation, immediately took a ring from his finger, and giving it to Sir William ordered in perpetuam rei memorian, that his crest should be a Saracen, with a Lion's paw in one hand, and a ring in the other; the ring is still in the possession of Viscount Downe. In a direct line from the above, descended Sir Nicholas Dawnay, summoned to Parliament among the Barons, 1st of Edward III. and several of them being Knights, were Sheriffs of this County in Henry VIII. and Elizabeth's reign. Sir Nicholas served in the wars in the Holy land, and brought from thence some rich and curious medals.
Sir John Dawnay, of Cowick, the first Viscount, was created Viscount Downe, of Ireland, July 19, 1680; and John Christopher Burton Dawnay, the 5th Viscount, was created an English Baron, by the title of Baron Dawnay, May28, 1798. --Magna. Brit. --Debrett.
Cowick with Snaith, has a peculiar jurisdiction over several neighbouring villages, which is pointed out in the respective places, under the title of "the Soke, bailiwick and liberty of Cowick and Snaith," and of which Lord Viscount Downe, is Lord and Chief Bailiff.
[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]