Few surnames have changed their appearance as dramatically as Cawthra. Although this is now essential associated with Bradford. It is merely one of at least a dozen variants which share a common history. The others which are well known in the area are Cawthray and Cawtheray but the one which provides the clue to the family's history is Cawdry. In contrast with many other local names, Cawthra was already numerous 600 years ago. There were at that time families as far apart as Slaidburn and Snaith while others lived to the east of Leeds. From Bradford point of view, however, the most interesting family was that of Robert Cawdra of Bramhope in the parish of Otley. It was in this part of Wharfedale and in 1451 had lived for generations. In 1402 Adam Cawdrey witnessed a deed at Burley in Wharfedale and in 1551 a rent roll for Kirkstall Abbey lists James Cawdrey as the tenant of land at Pool for which he was paying 2S rent. In the subsidy rolls of the 16th century the Cawdrays were well established at both Otley and Bramhope and from that period their history can be traced in the parish registers and other documents. In 1551, for example, John Cawdrey of Bramhope wrote in his will "George my sone shall have my fermhold during my lease taken of Mr. Dyneley, and he to fynd my wyf, meat, cloth honest during her lyfenaturell". In 1639 William Cawdrey of Bramhope, husbandman, appeared at the Sessions at Wakefield accused of "unlawfully there and driving away, a wether sheep value 4s." In many ways, however, it was the Hearth Tax of 1672 which provides the most directly interesting information, for it is there that we first find the modern spelling in the name William Cawthrey of Bramhope. Rather earlier than this, one branch of the family had already migrated into the Calverley area from where it was later to establish the link with Bradford which still survives. Robert Cawrey was living at Horsforth, and even earlier in 1592 Thomas Cawdrey had been involved in a land transaction at Pudsey. Although by 1400 Cawdray was the usual form of the name this had evolved via Corderay from Querderay the name of the family holding land at Stubham (Ilkley) since the middle years of the 13th century. Significantly, in another deed John Cawdrey's name was given as Quir de ray, confirming that the word is a version of the French "coeur de roi" (heart of a King). Linguistically, therefore, even if not genealogically the Bradford Cawthras are related to families Corderoy in France.