The male bird, the cock, was often used as a nickname to describe the natural pertness of boys, like the habits of a strutting fowl. Both swaggered and both could crow. Thus cock became the general sobriquet for a sharp and forward lad. Its use was Anglo-Saxon, predating the Norman arrival. Alvin Coc was recorded as a dispossessed Saxon in the 1086 Domesday Book.
As time went on it was used more and more for boys and servants until it was firmly established as a surname. As with most Christian names, a final "s" was frequently added and quite often this was combined with a "ck" and spelt with an "x" and the word was sometimes attached to the Christian name, such as Han-cock and Will-cox. Spellings such as Cock and Cocke continued. But the Cox spelling of the surname had begun to establish itself by the 15th century.
Other origins for the Cox surname have been suggested and these may have been applicable in certain geographic areas.
Cox Resources on
- Cox Surname Origins. Origins of the Cox surname.
- Cox USA. American Coxes.
- Cox Family History. Coxes from North Carolina.
England. An early Cockes
line began with Walter de Chelworth in Kent in the 13th century.
He was said to have been a strutting Norman soldier in England who was
nicknamed '"le coq" and his children "little cockes."
Cox-like surnames initially were more to be found further west in
- in the
southwest of the country in Wiltshire, Dorset, and Somerset
- and in the
middle of the country in Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.
Kockes and variants of that name had appeared in the records of Bridgewater, Somerset in the mid-15th century. Many Coxes in Somerset were rounded up after the failure of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685. Tom Cox was a famous highwayman from Somerset who was eventually caught and hanged in 1689.
Meanwhile Daniel Coxe, physician to Queen Anne in the early 18th century, was descended from a prominent Somerset line of Coxes. Samuel Cox was a Beaminster merchant in Dorset. Coxes from Wimborne were shipowners and William Cox of this family was an early settler in Australia (he arrived in 1800).
While the Cox name above may appear a west country name, large numbers by the 19th century were in fact in and around London. Earlier Coxes here were:
- Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely, who was born in Buckinghamshire in
1500. A later Cox family was to be found at Dorney in
Buckinghamshire from the 1630's.
- and John Cox who in the 1530's had acquired the manor of St. Albans in Hertfordshire at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. Colonel Alban Cox of St. Albans was a Parliamentarian at the time of the Civil War.
Scotland. There was a Cox line in Scotland that came came a Dutch Cock family that settled near Dumfries. This line apparently died out with Annie Cox in the late 19th century.
Ireland. Captain Richard
Cox had arrived from Wiltshire around 1600 and settled in Brandon,
Cork. His grandson served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1703
to 1707. A later Richard Cox began a linen industry
the 1730's around Dunmanway. Other descendants
moved to Ulster and some
migrated to America.
Cox name in
Ireland was also derived from the Gaelic Mac an Choiligh, mainly to be found in county Roscommon
where they had been corabs of St. Barry at Kilbarry. Denis Cox
(Donnchadh MacCoiligh), born in Meath in 1882, was a popular singer of
traditional Irish ballads.
America. Richard Cocke arrived
in Virginia from Shropshire and acquired large land holdings in Henrico
county during the 1630's. One line of his family later extended
Coxe was a member
of the Continental Congress of 1788 and a well-known political
economist and merchant of his day. His contemporary William
Coxe was one of the
foremost American fruit growers of his time from his home in
Jersey. They were descendants of
Coxe and his son Daniel who had arrived in New Jersey
spelling of other 17th century immigrants, such as William Cox from
Bristol who settled in Pemaquid, Maine, was generally Cox. Some
of William Cox's descendants were Loyalists who later decamped to
Canada. John Cox of this family operated an extensive shipping
business out of Portland, Maine during the 19th century.
was a prominent Cox Quaker family in Philadelphia from the early
1700's. Rowland Cox of this family became a leading Manhattan
lawyer after the Civil War. His grandson Archibald Cox was the
Special Prosecutor at the time of the Watergate scandal. Another
Cox Quaker family in Pennsylvania migrated to North
Carolina and in 1806, with Jeremiah Cox, to Wayne county, Ohio.
Cox arrived in Onslow county, North Carolina in 1741. The Coxes of Onslow
county have remained on the same farm to this day.
Australia. William Cox from
Dorset who arrived in
Australia in 1799 is best-known for the road he built across the Blue
from Sydney to Bathurst in 1814.
was given 30 convict laborers and
a guard of eight soldiers and he completed the road in just six months. It was not
metalled, being merely a dirt
track twelve feet wide, but it was nevertheless an amazing feat to have
the trees, filled in the holes, levelled the track, and built bridges
short a time.”
Cox has many descendants in
Australia. Three of his sons and a
number of his grandsons were sheep farmers in the Mudgee district that
had become accessible by Cox's road and they were
well known for the quality of their wool.
Another son Alfred moved to New Zealand in the 1850’s as a sheep
in South Canterbury.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Select Cox Names
Richard Cocks was an early English trader for the East India Company in Japan.
William Cox was a pioneer settler and road-builder in Australia.
Richard Cox was the originator of the "Cox's Orange Pippin" apple in Berkshire in 1825.
James Cox was Governor of Ohio and campaigned on the Democratic ticket for the Presidency in 1920.
Archibald Cox was US Solicitor General and later Special Prosecutor to investigate the Watergate scandal.
Select Coxes Today
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For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.
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