There is a possibility of the word common presenting an explanation of our word cowan. Common is found frequently in use by the trade Gilds. Usually it means the citizens as a body. Today the English Commons is the assembled representatives of the people.
Several instances of its use are to be found in Jupps' History of the Carpenters Company. Sometimes it is spelled Coen and then Comon, and so on as the habit or fancy of the writer moved him. About half a dozen of them are given in the book by Jupp.
To the Masonic student of philology we would submit these considerations as it is just possible that cowan is but a variant of common. Workmen raised by a skilled knowledge of their trade above the ordinary level could not directly stigmatize those not in their class by any more descriptive word than that which briefly scored them as of merely ordinary qualifications. Do the contemptuous not still so speak of the common herd, and has not the outraged "cullud pussun" been reported by the freely descriptive novelist as retorting on occasion with the saying of "common white trash?"
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