Coffin History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The saga of the name Coffin follows a line reaching back through history to the days of the Anglo-Saxon tribes in Britain. It was a name for someone who worked as a person who made baskets. The surname Coffin is derived from the Old French words cofin and coffin, which in turn come from the Late Latin word cophinus, which means basket. Occupational names such as this one frequently were derived from the principal object associated with the activity of the original bearer, such as tools or products. These types of occupational surnames are called metonymic surnames. The English word coffin is a specialized development of this word which did not exist before the 16th century. The surname Coffin may also be a nickname derived from the Latin word calvus, which means bald.

Early Origins of the Coffin family

The surname Coffin was first found in Devon at Alwington, a parish, in the union of Bideford, hundred of Shebbear, Great Torrington. "In the church [of Alwington], over the door of the chancel, is a curious ancient monument to a member of the Coffin family." [1]

"Abbotsham, [Devon] was anciently part of the estates of the Abbey of Tavistock, whence its name; but early in the seventeenth century belonged to the Coffin family, who have been seated at Portledge, in the adjoining parish of Alwington, almost from the time of the Conquest, and who continued there in the male line until the death of Richard Coffin in 1766. The family has produced many men of note, Sir William Coffin, Master of the Horse at the coronation of Anne Boleyn, and a prominent participator in the Field of the Cloth of Gold, being of the number. The Coffins spread also into the adjoining parish of Parkham." [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 has a range of spellings for the family: Richard Chaufin, Nottinghamshire; Robert Coffyn, Lincolnshire; and William Coffyn, Devon. [3]

Early History of the Coffin family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Coffin research. Another 70 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1571, 1626, 1571, 1585, 1588, 1592, 1593, 1594, 1597 and 1598 are included under the topic Early Coffin History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Coffin Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Coffin were recorded, including Coffin, Coffyn, Colvin, Caffin, Caffyn, Chafen, Chaffine and many more.

Early Notables of the Coffin family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Edward Coffin alias Hatton (1571-1626), English Jesuit, born at Exeter in 1571, and arrived at the English college at Rheims on 19 July 1585. On 26 July 1588 he entered...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Coffin Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Coffin World Ranking

In the United States, the name Coffin is the 3,168th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [4] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Coffin is ranked the 346th most popular surname with an estimated 135 people with that name. [5] And in France, the name Coffin is the 4,929th popular surname with an estimated 1,500 - 2,000 people with that name. [6]


United States Coffin migration to the United States +

To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Coffin family emigrate to North America:

Coffin Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Francis Coffin who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Francis Coffin, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [7]
  • Tristram Coffin, who landed in Massachusetts in 1642 [7]
  • Anne Coffin, who settled in Virginia in 1650
  • James Coffin, who landed in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1660 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Coffin Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Richard Coffin, who landed in New York in 1795 [7]
Coffin Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • C Coffin, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [7]
  • J W Coffin, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [7]
  • Mrs. M Coffin, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [7]
  • Mrs. M A Coffin, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [7]
  • M B Coffin, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Coffin Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Albert Coffin, aged 21, who immigrated to the United States, in 1903
  • Alice Coffin, aged 53, who landed in America, in 1909
  • Arthur H. Coffin, aged 26, who immigrated to the United States, in 1921
  • Arthur Coffin, aged 27, who settled in America, in 1922
  • Annie Coffin, aged 38, who immigrated to the United States from London, England, in 1923

Canada Coffin migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Coffin Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Guy Carleton Coffin U.E. born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA who settled in Westfield [Grand Bay-Westfield], New Brunswick c. 1783 son of Major John Coffin [8]
  • Mr. Isaac Coffin U.E. who settled in Carleton [Saint John City], New Brunswick c. 1783 [8]
  • Mr. James Coffin U.E. who settled in Home District, [Niagara], Lincoln County, Ontario c. 1783 he served as a Commy [8]
  • Mr. John Coffin U.E. who settled in Carleton [Saint John City], New Brunswick c. 1783 [8]
  • Major John Coffin U.E. born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA who settled in Westfield [Grand Bay-Westfield], New Brunswick c. 1783; he served in the British Army [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Coffin migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Coffin Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Coffin, English convict who was convicted in Devon, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Dromedary" on 11th September 1819, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • Richard Coffin, English convict from Cornwall, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on October 22nd, 1824, settling in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Mr. Richard Coffin, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 29th March 1824, sentenced for 7 years for burglary and stealing, transported aboard the ship "Asia" on 22nd October 1824 to New South Wales, Australia [11]

Contemporary Notables of the name Coffin (post 1700) +

  • Robert Peter Tristam Coffin (1892-1955), American writer, poet and professor awarded the 1936 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
  • Tristam Coffin (1909-1990), American film and television actor from the latter 1930s through the 1970s
  • Charles Edward Coffin (1841-1912), American politician, Representative of the 5th Congressional District of Maryland from 1894 to 1897
  • Howard Aldridge Coffin (1877-1956), American politician from the state of Michigan. Member of Congress from 1947 to 1949
  • Jeff Coffin (b. 1965), multiple Grammy Award-winning American jazz and alternative rock musician
  • Bob Coffin, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Nevada 1st District, 1996 [12]
  • Allen Coffin, American politician, Prohibition Candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, 1896; Prohibition Candidate for Massachusetts State Attorney General, 1905 [12]
  • Alexander J. Coffin, American politician, Member of New York State Senate 8th District, 1848-49 [12]
  • Alexander Coffin, American politician, Mayor of Hudson, New York, 1821-23 [12]
  • Albert G. Coffin Jr., American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Bahia, 1917-18 [12]
  • ... (Another 42 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • Leonard John Coffin (1895-1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Fleet Reserve aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [13]
SS Caribou
  • Mr. James Hubert Coffin (b. 1916), (b. 1916), Newfoundland crew member from Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador was travelling aboard the railway ferry "SS Caribou" when it was struck by a German submarine torpedo on 14th October 1942, the most significant sinking in Canadian waters at that time, he died in the sinking
  • Mr. Elijah G. Coffin (b. 1889), (b. 1889), Newfoundland crew member boatswain from Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador was travelling aboard the railway ferry "SS Caribou" when it was struck by a German submarine torpedo on 14th October 1942, the most significant sinking in Canadian waters at that time, he died in the sinking
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Robert Coffin, American Shipfitter Third Class from Washington, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [14]


The Coffin Motto +

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: Extant recte factis praemia
Motto Translation: Rewards await right actions.


Suggested Readings for the name Coffin +

  • Gatherings Toward a Genealogy of the Coffin Family by W. S. Appleton.
  • Genealogy of the Early Generations of the Coffin Family in New England by Sivanus Jenkins Macy.
  • The Long Years by Jean M. Maire.

  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  5. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  6. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/dromedary
  10. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1824 with 9 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1824
  11. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 22) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  14. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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