Show ContentsCosway History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestry of the name Cosway dates from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from when the family lived in the Pays de Caux (Seine-Infèrieure) in Normandy. However, the surname Cosway may have also been applied to someone who lived near a causeway, which was a raised roadway crossing wet or low-lying ground. In this latter case, the surname Cosway is derived from the Old English word cauce, meaning causeway. [1]

Cosway is a classic example of an English polygenetic surname, which is a surname that was developed in a number of different locations and adopted by various families independently.

Early Origins of the Cosway family

The surname Cosway was first found in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 where John de Chausy, Gloucestershire was listed. Following this early listing further, we found Robert Causeys, Causay was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex 1327, 1332; Robert de Calceto listed in the Assize Rolls for Lincolnshire in 1202; and Henry atte Cause listed in the Somerset Rolls for 1356. [2]

The variant "Cossey is an old Norwich name. In 1472, Henry Cossey, who was afterwards rector of Wilby, was a noted friar of the Dominican convent in Norwich; and there were then others of the name in that city. About the same time John Cossey was rector of Cougbam." [3]

The Causey variant seems unique to Devon and Cornwall. [4] More specifically, Trusham was the ancestral home of the Causley family, whose descendants include the poet Charles Causley and the folk singer Jim Causley.

Today Trusham is "a parish, in the union of NewtonAbbott, hundred of Exminster, Teignbridge and S. divisions of Devon." [5] But turning back the pages of time, we found that Trusham goes at least as far back as the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was known as Trisma [6] and originally meant "place overgrown with brushwood." [7]

Early History of the Cosway family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cosway research. Another 91 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cosway History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cosway Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Cosway have been found, including Causey, Causley, Cause, Causy and others.

Early Notables of the Cosway family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Cosway family

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Cosway, or a variant listed above: Nathanial Causey who settled in Virginia in 1623; with his wife; John Cause settled in Musquette Shore in 1774; Caspar Cause who arrived in Philadelphia in 1797..

Contemporary Notables of the name Cosway (post 1700) +

  • Frederick J. Cosway, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State House of Representatives 79th District, 1974 [8]
  • Richard Cosway (1740-1821), English miniaturist, born at Tiverton, Devonshire, in 1740 where his father was master of the public school
  • Maria Cecilia Louisa Cosway (b. 1820), Irish miniature painter, born in Florence at an uncertain date

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  7. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 12) . Retrieved from on Facebook