COXON NAME

The most ancient surname of Coxon makes an impressive claim to being one of the oldest Anglo/Saxon surnames on record. The history of the name is closely woven into the intricate tapestry of the ancient chronicles of England.

Professional researchers have carefully scrutinized such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book (1086), the Ragman Rolls (1291-1296), the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other ancient documents and found the first record of the name Coxon in Yorkshire where they were seated from very ancient times.

Many different spellings were encountered in the research of your surname. Although your name, Coxon, occurred in many manuscripts and documents, from time to time the surname was also officially spelled Cookson, Cuckson, Cockson, Coxon, and these variations in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. Scribes and church officials, often travelling great distances, even from other countries, frequently spelt the names they were recording as they heard it. As a result the same person could find different spellings of the name recorded on birth, baptismal, marriage and death certificates as well as the other numerous records such as tax and census records.

The Saxon race gave birth to many English surnames not the least of which was the surname Coxon. The Saxons were invited into England by the ancients Britons in the 5th.century. They were a race of fair skinned people living along the Rhine valley as far North East as Denmark. They were led by General/Commanders Hengist & Horsa. The Saxons settled in the county of Kent, on the south east coast of England. Gradually, they probed north and westward, and during the next four hundred years forced the Ancient Britons back into Wales and Cornwall in the west, Cumberland to the North. The Angles, on the other hand, occupied the eastern coast, the south folk in Suffolk, north folk in Norfolk. Under Saxon rule, England prospered under a series of High Kings, the last of which was Harold. In 1066, the Norman invasion from France occurred and their victory at the battle of Hastings. Subsequently, many of the vanquished Saxon land owners forfeited their land to Duke William and his invading Norman nobles. Generally, the Saxons who remained in the south were not treated well under Norman rule, and many moved northward to the midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire away from the Norman oppression.

This notable English family name, Coxon, emerged as an influential name in the county of Yorkshire. The first records of the name were found in the county of Yorkshire, about the year 1220. From the year 1273 the family branched to the neighbouring counties of Staffordshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire. The origins of Cookson and Cockson (or Coxon) are so closely interwoven that they are indistinguishable from each other. The variant Cuckson was found in Yorkshire. Cookson is one of the few instances of a trade name having a 'son' tacked on the end. The name also appears in one of the earliest pageants in England, the York Pageant. Thomas Cokson was registered as holding lands in Yorkshire in the year 1379. The family flourished on their many estates for the next two or three centuries. Notable amongst the family at this time was Cookson of Yorkshire.

During the middle ages the surname Coxon flourished and played an important role in local affairs and in the political development of England. During the 15th., 16th.,17th.and 18th.centuries England was ravaged by plagues and religious conflict. Puritanism, the newly found political fervour of Cromwellianism, and remnants of the Roman Church rejected all non-believers, each promoting their own cause. The conflicts between Church groups, the Crown and political groups all claimed their followers, and their impositions, tithes, and demands on rich and poor alike broke the spirit of men and many turned away from religion. Many families were freely 'encouraged' to migrate to Ireland, or to the 'colonies'. Some were rewarded with grants of lands, others were banished. Some families were forced to migrate to Ireland where they became known as the 'Adventurers for land in Ireland'. Protestant settlers 'undertook' to keep their faith, being granted lands previously owned by the Catholic Irish. They were know n as the 'Undertakers'. There is no record of this distinguished family migrating to Ireland but this does not preclude the possibility of individual migration.

The New World offered better opportunities and some migrated voluntarily, some were banished mostly for religious reasons. Some left Ireland disillusioned, but many left directly from England, their home territories. Some also moved to the European continent.

Members of the family name Coxon sailed aboard the huge armada of three masted sailing ships known as the 'White Sails' which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships such as the Hector, the Dove and the Rambler, were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30 to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination, their numbers reduced by dysentery, cholera, small pox and typhoid. In North America, included amongst the first migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the surname Coxon, or a variable spelling of that family name was John Cookson who settled in Virginia in 1774; Craven Cookson settled in America in 1830; A friend of mine from America, thinks that the Thomas Coxson who settled in St.Christopher in 1635 could be the same Thomas Coxson who also settled in Virginia in 1637; Bryan Coxon settled in Virginia in 1655; Mark Coxon from Birmingham, England, settled in St.John's, Newfoundland, in 1800, and died there in 1844, aged 76.

From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagon trains to the prairies or to the west coast. During the War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

Contemporary notables of this surname, Coxon, include many distinguished contributors; Professor Richard C.Cookson, English Chemist and educator; and Roland A.Cookson, C.B.E., English Business Executive.

During the course of our research we also determined the many Coat of Arms granted to different branches of the family name.

The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was; On a red and gold background two legs in armour. The Crest is; A half lion roaring, holding a staff. The ancient family motto for this distinguished name is; "Nil desperandum"

Harry L.Coxon (E-mail address:harry.coxon@virgin.net)