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Cockell Family Crest / Cockell Coat of Arms

The surname COCKELL could be a metonymic occupational name for a gatherer and seller of shellfish, or it could be a nickname for someone who had been on a pilgrimage to Santiago, and wore a cockle badge in commemoration. The word also applied in the Middle Ages to a type of woman's headress, that somewhat resembled the Mollusc in form, so the surname may have also arisen as a metonymic occupational name for a milliner who produced such items. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. Early records of the name mention Coc de Domo Abraham of London in 1192. Nicholas Cock of the County of Surrey was documented in the year 1297. Thomas Cokkell of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax in 1379. Joseph Cock and Hannah Sprott were married at St. Mary Aldermary, London in 1606. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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