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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Borderlands, Scottish

The Coburn surname is derived from a place in Berwickshire named Cockburn. The place name in turn, comes from the Old English "cocc," meaning "rooster," and "burna," meaning "a stream." As such, the surname is classed as a local, or habitational name, derived from a place where the original bearer lived or held land.


The surname Coburn was first found in Roxburghshire (now part of the region of Borders). One of the first times the name was listed, was during the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214) when a Cukoueburn was listed in the area of Clifton. Typical of these early entries, no given name was provided. Peter de Cokburne witnessed a grant in 1220. One of the earliest records of a Clan crest was in 1296, when a rooster (cock) is shown on the seal of Peres de Cokeburne. Sir Alexander Cockburn was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. In 1390, his grandson Alexander was appointed Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland. Around this time, some of the family settled in Danzig and changed their name to Kabrun.

Spelling variations of this family name include: Cockburn, Cockbourne, Cockbourn, Cockburne, Cocburn, Coburn, Cobourne, Coburne and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Coburn research. Another 231 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1390, 1395, 1656, 1735, 1685, 1770 and are included under the topic Early Coburn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Notable amongst the family name during their early history was Sir George Cockburn; Lord Cockburn, a Judge, Author, and Politician; James Cockburn, first M.P. for Muskoka and first Speaker of the House of...

Another 32 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Coburn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Some of the Coburn family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Coburn Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Edward Coburn, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635

Coburn Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • John Coburn, who arrived in Virginia in 1711
  • Patrick Coburn, who landed in Virginia in 1714

Coburn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Samuel Coburn, aged 28, arrived in New York, NY in 1806
  • Thomas Coburn, aged 23, arrived in New York, NY in 1806
  • Robert Coburn, who arrived in America in 1811
  • William Coburn, who arrived in New York in 1812
  • Jane Coburn, who landed in New York in 1812
  • ...

Coburn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Mary A. Coburn arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Avon" in 1860

  • Thomas Allen "Tom" Coburn (b. 1948), United States Senator, medical doctor and Southern Baptist deacon
  • Frank Potter Coburn (1858-1932), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin (1891-1893)
  • Charles Douville Coburn (1877-1961), American Academy Award winning film and theater actor, known for his work in The Devil and Miss Jones (1941), The More the Merrier (1943), Heaven Can Wait (1943), Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952) and many more
  • Abner Coburn (1803-1885), American politician, 30th Governor of Maine from 1863 to 1864
  • Brigadier-General Henry Clay Jr. Coburn (1879-1958), American Assistant Surgeon Fort Bragg Station Hospital (1939)
  • Donald L. Coburn (b. 1938), American dramatist awarded the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play, The Gin Game
  • Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966), American photographer, known for his portraits, he became a key figure in the development of American pictorialism, he later became a British subject and lived in Wales for the rest of his life
  • James Harrison Coburn III (1928-2002), American Academy Award-winning movie actor, best known for his roles in The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, Hell Is for Heroes, his "Flint" movies and many more
  • Willie Simpson Coburn (1941-2015), Scottish footballer
  • Norman Coburn (b. 1937), Australian television character-actor, best known for his role as Donald Fisher in Home And Away
  • ...

  • Ancestors and Descendants of James William Coburn, 1850-1929 by Raymond H. Coburn.
  • Genealogy of the Descendants of Edward Colburn [or] Coburn by George Augustus Gordon.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: In dubiis constans
Motto Translation: Steady in doubtful affairs.


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    Other References

    1. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
    2. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
    3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
    5. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
    6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
    7. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    8. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
    9. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
    10. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
    11. ...

    The Coburn Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Coburn Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 9 December 2015 at 11:42.

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