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The Great Historic Families of Scotland
Baron and Barony of Cowdenknowes

The Barony of Cowdenknowes was once part of the much older Barony of Ercildoune (later known as Earlston) in the Scottish Borders. Having been a stronghold of the Humes it was created as a separate burgh of barony in 1634 by Royal Charter in favour of Jacob Livingstoun of Beill, and was later passed on to the Hamilton family, Earls of Haddington.

The region of the barony has a rich history of war and peacetime raiding with the border reivers. Romance, tragedy, humour and folklore also play an intricate role in the region. It was home to Thomas the Ryhmer who was from Earlston, and Cowdenknowes itself was immortalized in the old folksong “Broome of Cowdenknowes,” a story of the love and heartbreak of a local lass.

In 2003, The Barony of Cowdenknowes came into possession of the Harden family. The Hardens claim descent from the Scots of Harden through their surname.

The Hardens have always maintained a passion for the region. This began for the current Baron when he was a small boy. His father would take him on trips to Harden Glen and tell him stories of the border reivers and of the family’s roots. This passion has continued with the Baron’s oldest son Mark, the Younger of Cowdenknowes.

Barry Harden, the current Baron of Cowdenknowes, was born in Malta in 1945. His father, William John Harden, was serving with the 2nd Battalion, the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, throughout World War II, and was mentioned in despatches. His grandfather was a regimental sergeant major in the Scots Guards and served in both Boer and World War I until being severely wounded during the latter.

The Baron lived in Fort Clarence in Rochester, Kent, for the early part of his life, moving to Gillingham in 1951 where he received his education. After serving in the Royal Navy he moved to Harrow Middlesex where he met and married Miss Joan Bidwell, now Lady Cowdenknowes. In March of 1967 the couple’s first son, Mark John Harden, was born. The family later moved to Cambridgeshire where their second son, Darren Barry Harden, was born. The couple remain there today.

The Baron is an avid historian and an accomplished artist. He is currently engaged in painting family portraits for their archives.

Mark John Harden, Younger of Cowdenknowes, holds a degree in engineering and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, with his American-born wife Elizabeth (her paternal grandmother was a MacDonald of the Isles). They have a son, Ryan Wesley, and a daughter, Elizabeth Anne. It is interesting to note that there is a tradition in Elizabeth’s family of naming all first born daughters Elizabeth, and in keeping with that tradition their present daughter is the ninth of that name.

The youngest son, Darren Barry Harden, holds a degree in graphic design. He lives and works in Croydon. Darren is engaged to Natalie Fullick (of New Zealand) and they are due to be married in Surrey in 2004.

Thanks to Mark Harden of Cowdenknowes, yr, for the above information.

Do visit their web site here!

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