Show ContentsCoxswithy History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Atlantic Ocean to the north and west and the English Channel to the south borders Cornwall, the homeland to the Coxswithy family name. Even though the usage of surnames was common during the Middle Ages, all English people were known only by a single name in early times. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames are derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. The Coxswithy family originally lived in Devon, at the village of Coxworth.

Early Origins of the Coxswithy family

The surname Coxswithy 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 Coxswithy family

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

Coxswithy 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 Coxswithy family

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 Coxswithy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Coxswithy family

The records on immigrants and ships' passengers show a number of people bearing the name Coxswithy: 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