A Projected Origin of the Surname COX


Arms or Shields


The above arms were found on an Irish Web Site but cannot be attributed to any particular Cox/Cock pedigree.

The following are illustrated in an article entitled "The Cockes of England" and headed "Arms of the Cocke Family" although it is not clear whether they are all related to each.

Cock of Broxbourne Kent

Cock [Not Identified]

Cocks [Possibly Cox of  Beaminster -1]

Cockyn [Unknown Origin]

Clifford Coke [pre 18th century from Dr Heylyn's Help to English History]   1 November 1773

Lawrence Cox of Monmouth

Cock of Newcastle

Lord Somers Cocks

James Cox or Cock of Dundee



Various other definitions

Space here for any more please?















































 The exact origin of the name may well never be truly established as it seems to have come into existence by being used as a nickname. Other surnames were more commonly in use by virtue of a person's trade or vocation and/or the place where they live, but COX cannot really be defined under any of these thoughts. In the main today, spelling of names remain the same, and is not subject to the exigencies of earlier years.

 Some define it as relating to the male Cock Bird of the species, maybe though, a convenient thought initiated by the similar expressions of both words - COX & COCKS.

 Amongst the first instances found are Saxon references from an Anglo-Saxon dictionary that records the spelling as COC [meaning a Cook] and is also found in later documents up to c.1200; Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain, records that Gaius Metellus Cocta was one of the Roman Senators to accompany the Roman led invasion forces during King Arthur's reign.

 From c.1200 the spelling changes to COCK-KOK-KOC and COC seems to disappear, probably due to the invasion of the Norman dialect although the version COK existed in Somerset c.17th century. KOK is Danish for "A Heap" and  probably came here with the Danish invasions, surviving in common speech as in the word "Haycock".

 The spelling then varies greatly with the additions of letters "E" or "ES" - sometimes "K" and "C" being written twice at the end, but the first letter has only ever been either "C" or "K".

 The inclusion of the letters  "IE or Y" also occur, which may be the result of the person speaking the name in affectionate terminology by which the person became more generally known - i.e. COCKY - COCKIES - COCKER for COCK.

 More recently is "COXEY". The 16th century rolls of students at Oxford and Cambridge Universities contain many quaint versions of the name which must be the result of how the name was spoken and/or how it was heard by the writer.

 An interesting variation COXETER is recorded in Kelly's Directory for Berkshire 1899, where several families with this name can be found, and Tenbury Worcestershire, records a family named COXCELL in 1851.

 Exactly when the spelling "COX" appeared is not able to be assessed accurately, but it may have been during the 14th century, and was certainly in use by 1487 as can be found in the International Genealogical Indices for that year.

 Most surname dictionaries say that it was used as a nickname as already mentioned, and quite often defines it a "pert boy"? One source says it is Flemish, being patronymic from the occupational form COK (Cook), whilst another asserts that it indicates a natural leader, early riser or a lusty and/or aggressive individual. This last description is pretty improbable one would think, and the writer cannot envisage any circumstance that may call upon this particular use, as it would classify all those with this surname - rightly or wrongly!

 A more recent thought has suggested a clan relationship, but my research has not yet revealed any existence of a community that could be thought of in the same way that the Scottish or Irish clans are. One name appears though in the West Country and two midlands counties, that of an O'Cock family, 18th to 19th century, and an even earlier form Oacock in Cumberland in the 17th to 18th century. What if anything, do these names imply? Are they persons of or from an area know as Cock or is this indeed a clan? - We may never know, but there does exist a river named Cocker in Cumberland that may have some relationship to the Cumberland name including an eminence named Cockshot near Keswick.

 From the Bridgwater Somerset, Borough Archives 1468- 1485

 In the index is written seven names all with different spellings, Cotys, Cockes, Cockis, Cockys, Cotes, Cotis and Kockes. We may derive some indication as to a probable evolution of the name of Coxe and its variations from this, but there is no proof of course, but it is also possible these names related to just one person. There are also separate entries for Coky and Cookis or Kookis, but again this proves nothing.

 However, from a lease of date 1469 when one Robert Kockes was one of several witnesses, it is possible with a little imagination and deduction, to derive an evolution from that spelling. It must also be remembered that the pronunciation of Cox is the same as Kocks, even though the spelling is different.

  It is also worth mentioning that forms of the name are attached as an ending to many other names, all who have their separate definitions or meanings and are listed in most good surname dictionaries - i.e. Willcox, Handcock etc. - interestingly the name Willcox appears in the Wedmore burial registers during the 16th century with one entry relating it to the persons wife whose name is given as Coxe.

Somerset Church Accounts 1457-1559.


RW Dunning and MB McDermott (SRO 2013)

A rather unusual version is recorded in this publication of 7 parishes where the name appears in the index as "Caux, Cavxe, Co, Cokkys, Cox) -  the version "Caux" is quite interesting as it is the name of a place in Switzerland near Montreux. Whilst it is likely that the spelling came about either by scribe decision or interpretation, it is another avenue for consideration.

Somerset Heritage Centre - DD\WHb/1345

An unusual occurrence can be seen in a document dating 13th century - early 14th century:-

By Roysia de Dunstravill to Henry Cocus called le Beste, for his service, of the tenement which Roger Bernard sometime held from her in Sterte [Stert] with lands, etc. appertaining in Hechelhamtone, to hold by tenure of a pair of gloves valued at one penny at Michaelmas and for this grant the said Henry gave her 100 shillings.
Witnesses: Roger Luvel, Geoffrey de la Poterne, Master Richard de Poterne etc.
Temp. Henry III - Edward I.

The Dictionary of British Surnames by P.H. Reane

Alunius Cock                         1066

Alwinus Coc                          1066 [A disposed Saxon - Domesday Book]

Osburn Cocc                         1175/95

Aki Coc                                1177

Coc de Dono Abraham          1192

Koc filius Pertius                   1230 [Also noted as 'Filius Pertius Koc]

William Goddard la Cock       1277

Cock le Batiller                      1281

Thomas le Cock                    1285

Cock [Kok] de Mari               1296 [Cock of the Sea - Sussex Subsidy]

Kok de Forester                     1296 [Cock of the Forest - Sussex Subsidy]

Nicholas Cock                        1297

Aluminous Cock                     1299

Thomas atte Cock                  1318 [Dweller by the Hill]

Hugh atte Cock                      1319 [Coch is Cornish for Red]

Pertonilla Cocks                     1327

William del Coke                    1327

Coats of Arms found for the name Cox, Cock or Variations

A London Family c.1761

Referenced by Robin Cox of Paignton, Devon from a print purchased in the USA c.1983 and Gerald P Cox c.1990 from a similar print in the UK.


Argent, three rooster gules crowned, or an a chief between two ostrich feathers of the first a pale of the last charged with a rose of the second.


On a wreath of the colours a cock gules ducally crowned or.

Cox of Beaminster - 1

Supplied by Bernard Knight, first editor of the "Greenwood Tree" journal for the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society.


Sable. A chevron between three stag's heads cabossed, coupled below the eyes, argent.


A stag couchant on a wreath.

Cox of Beaminster - 2

Reference: Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries Vol 22 item 205 on page 327/328 entitled 'Cox Families of the West of England'. [See also endnote A. Warburton Cox]


Sa: a chevron between three stag's heads cabossed or.


A stag levant reguard or.

Thomas Cox of Beamonds Hertfordshire c.1571

Confirmed by Rob't Cooke, Clarenceus P. Pattent and a Pedigree; source is the Visitation of Hertfordshire 1634. [Spelt COXE in the pedigree]


Or, three bars azure, on a quarter argent a lion's head couped gules.


An antelope's head erased sable, horned, bearded and pierced through the neck with an arrow or.

Cockes of North Somerset [Undated]


Gu. a spur leather and buckle or on a cheif ar. three cocks' heads erased of the field combed and wattled gold.

No Crest or Motto.

Cockes or Coke of Gloucester


Gu. fretty ar. on a fesse sa., three cocks of the second (Practically identical with Cocks of Dorset)

No Crest or Motto.

Cocks of Dorset


Gu. fretty ar. on a fesse of the last, three cocks of the first.

No Crest or Motto. 

Walter de Chelworth Cocks c.1200

Reference:     Visitation of Somerset at Somerset Record Office.  [Later spelt Cokkes]


Gules, a spur leather and buckled or on a chief argent, three cocks' heads erased, of the field, combed and wattled or.

A branch of this family:

Cox of Easton Hastings 

Reference: - Visitation of Berkshire Vol 1. c.1530 Southampton.


No arms tricked, three cocks 2 and 1 (al's 3 cocks in chief) or.

James Cox or Cock of Dundee Scotland

Reference: - Book entitled "Family Records" at Somerset Record Office. This contains many family's Arms.


Or a chevron az. between two spur rowels in chief, and a lion's head erased in base gu. langued of the second, within a bordure of the third.


A dexter arms embowed issuing out of the sea, holding in the hand an anchor in bend sinister cabled all ppr.


Praemium virtutis honos

 This family of Cox/Cock, came from Holland in the 16th century and settled in the parish of Liff Forfarshire, Scotland. The pedigree ascends to Annie Cox 1895, who married Colonel David James Kinloch. There appears to be no further male line from Annie's father; William Henry Cox 1865.

A firm entitled 'Hall of Names (Solent)' states that in their write-up from their researches for the name Cox, they found many Coats of Arms granted to different branches of the Cox family.

The following they stated as being:   "The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found."


Quarterly red and green with a gold circle in each quarter. 


A stag.

 There was no particular name given as to who the holder was of these undated arms or crest.


From http://www.bibliomania.com/0/0/frameset.html  we have a quite positive consideration:

Cock of Westminster (The). Castell, a shoemaker, was so called from his very early hours. He was one of the benefactors of Christís Hospital (London).

 During the 19th century, an article was serialised in Notes & Queries for Devon & Cornwall by A. Warburton Cox who gave a great deal of information on the name's probable West Country origin, suggesting that it travelled from the Wiltshire area Southwest and Westwards.

 Of its more northerly movements and variants, nothing can be established except to say that it was not as prominent as it was in southern and western England, although in Gloucestershire it seems to have been more dominant.

An interesting version appears in the Registers of Glasbury, Breconshire (1660-1836) when John Coxtun was instituted as Vicar on 16th March 1495-6 by the Abbot and Convent of St. Peters of Gloucester. One may draw an inference here that John was of a place by the name of COX - 'tun' being the Anglo-Saxon that refers to such an event.

From The Internet Library of Early Journals there are some three pages of correspondence endeavouring to discover from where the word "Cockney" originated, and how it came to mean those persons living in London who were born within the sound of Bow Bells.

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Page Last Updated: - 05/04/2016