The surname of COCKBURN was of territorial origin, from the lands so called in the Merse. In the reign of William The Lion (1165-1214) there was a Cukoueburn in the territory of Clifton in Roxburghshire. Early records of the name mention Peter de Cokburne, who witnessed a grant in 1220 John de Kocbrun, a landowner in Fife, for the weal of his soul and the souls of his ancestors and successors, granted to the monastery of Lundors certain lands beside his vill of Cullessin, circa, 1250. The marriage of a daughter of Robert de Cokburne, is mentioned in 1266, and it was perhaps the same Robert who witnessed a charter of lands in 1281. Gilbert de Chockeburn had a charter of land in Popil in East Lothian in 1390. There have been many individuals of distinction of this name in the field of law, theology, politics and medicine. James Cockburn of Orimiston (1685-1770) was an improver of Scottish agriculture. Henry, Lord Cockburn (1779-1853) Judge, Politician and author. Sir George Cockburn (1772-1853), the admiral who conveyed Napoleon to St. Helena. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Cockburn, Scotland.
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