Show ContentsCockswithy History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The illustrious surname Cockswithy finds its origin in the rocky, sea swept coastal area of southwestern England known as Cornwall. Although surnames were fairly widespread in medieval England, people were originally known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames were adopted is extremely interesting. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Lords and their tenants often became known by the name of the feudal territory they owned or lived on. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. This was due to the heavy political and cultural influence of the English upon the Cornish People at the time that surnames first came into use. Local surnames were derived from where a person lived, held land, or was born. While many Cornish surnames of this sort appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames derived from lost or unrecorded place names. The name Cockswithy is a local type of surname and the Cockswithy family lived in Devon, at the village of Coxworth.

Early Origins of the Cockswithy family

The surname Cockswithy was first found in Devon where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Yarnscombe in that county. At the time of the taking of the Domesday Book in 1086 A.D. the estates of Yarnescombe (anciently spelt Hernescombe) were held by Robert from Baldwin the Sheriff of Devon and, conjecturally, the family name may be descended from this person although the Cornish source may predominate by their close relationship to the Cornish family of Trevalian. By the nature of an explanation of the meaning of the name, a "worthy" was one who held personal rights above and beyond the influence of the tenant-in-chief, in this case the rights to a roost of a cock, hens and chickens, and more importantly, the manure therefrom. All other roosts were the property of the Lords of the Manor. To be a worthy of any farm product meant a person of high distinction, next to the Lords of the Manor and usually succeeding to that position.

We found this interesting passage about one of the family in St. Stephens, Cornwall. "sixty years ago; since which time it has been made an article of considerable traffic. A gentleman named Cookworthy of Plymouth, who was well known in the chemical world, happening to be at Fowey at the founding of some bells, was furnished for the first time with an opportunity of observing the peculiar properties of this clay from the appearance which it assumed in the moulds in which the bells were cast; and from this circumstance was led to establish a porcelain manufactory at Plymouth. But unfortunately his efforts were not crowned with success. A second attempt was afterwards made at Bristol; but this also proved abortive. Its fame becoming known, the late Josiah Wedgewood took a track of ground in which this article was found, and after repeated efforts had the felicity to find his experiments on its various properties attended with complete success." [1]

Early History of the Cockswithy family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cockswithy research. Another 106 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1515, 1705, 1780, 1705, 1780, 1745, 1750, 1768, 1745, 1709 and 1710 are included under the topic Early Cockswithy History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cockswithy Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Coxworthie, Coxworthy, Cockworthy, Cocksworthy, Cooksworthy, Cooksworthie, Cockworthie, Cookworth, Coxsworth and many more.

Early Notables of the Cockswithy family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was William Cookworthy (1705-1780) an English Quaker minister, a successful pharmacist and an innovator in several fields of technology. He was the first person in Britain to discover how to make hard-paste porcelain, like that imported from China. He was the "founder of the Plymouth China Works, where the first true porcelain made in England was produced, and the productions of which are now most highly valued. Born at Kingsbridge in 1705, and left when quite a lad by the death of his father, who was a weaver, in very poor circumstances, he walked to...
Another 209 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cockswithy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Cockswithy family

An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Cockswithy: John and Jane Cookworthy who landed in New York state in 1822 with seven children. In Newfoundland the family settled in Grand Bank and later moved to St. John's..

  1. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print on Facebook