Show ContentsCosby History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Cosby name lie with England's ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It comes from when the family lived in or near the place named Cosby, which was in the county of Leicestershire. The name of this settlement was originally derived from the Old English forename Cossa and the Old Norse word byr, which means farm; thus, it means Cossa's farm. The surname Cosby belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

Early Origins of the Cosby family

The surname Cosby was first found in Leicestershire at Cosby, a parish, in the union of Blaby, hundred of Guthlaxton. [1] This place name date back to at leat the Donesdfay Book of 1086 when it was known as Cossebi and literally meant "farmstead of village of a man called Cossa." [2]

It is "said to have been the property of the family before the Conquest." [3]

Early History of the Cosby family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cosby research. Another 92 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1516, 1560, 1510, 1580, 1565, 1548, 1558 and 1562 are included under the topic Early Cosby History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cosby 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 Cosby were recorded, including Cosby, Cosbie, Cosbey, Cosbye, Cossbye and others.

Early Notables of the Cosby family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Cosby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cosby Ranking

In the United States, the name Cosby is the 2,917th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [4]

Ireland Migration of the Cosby family to Ireland

Some of the Cosby family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 106 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Cosby 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 Cosby family emigrate to North America:

Cosby Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Cosby who settled in Virginia in 1654
  • Thomas Cosby, who arrived in Maryland in 1656 [5]
  • Mary Cosby, who landed in Maryland in 1678 [5]
Cosby Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hannah Cosby, who settled in Charles Town in 1763
Cosby Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Danl Cosby, aged 20, who arrived in America in 1822 [5]

Canada Cosby migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cosby Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John Cosby, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Private George Cosby, "Cosbey" U.E. (b. 1765) born in New York, USA who settled in Pelham, Welland County, Ontario c. 1795 in 1784; he left Quebec to travel to Ireland with his father, then travelled back, listed in Niagara in 1787, he served in the King's Rangers, married to Mary McGregor they had 8 children he died in 1806 Smithville, Ontario [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Cosby (post 1700) +

  • Henry "Hank" Cosby (1928-2002), American songwriter and record producer for Motown Records
  • Joseph Hathaway Cosby (1902-1998), second President of Hargrave Military Academy
  • George Blake Cosby (1830-1909), Confederate States Army brigadier general during the American Civil War
  • Gerry Cosby (1909-1996), American ice hockey goaltender
  • Dabney Cosby (1793-1862), American architect and builder in Virginia and North Carolina
  • Vice Admiral Phillips Cosby (1729-1808), British Royal Navy officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War, eponym of the HMS Cosby (K559)
  • Andrew Cosby, American comic book creator, film producer, screenwriter, and co-creator of the hit SyFy TV series Eureka
  • William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr. (b. 1937), American actor, comedian, television producer and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Dudley Alexander Sydney Cosby (1730-1774), 1st Baron Sydney, Irish politician and diplomat
  • Rita Cosby, TV reporter

USS Arizona
  • Mr. Ray C. Cosby, American Seaman First Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [7]

The Cosby 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: Sub libertate quietem
Motto Translation: Rest under liberty.

Suggested Readings for the name Cosby +

  • Cosby Family Records by Don Simmons.
  • Cosby Genealogy by Frank Carvill Cosby.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. 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)
  6. 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
  7. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook