The surname of COHEE is a variant of the name Coffey, and is also spelt O'Cowhig and Cowhey. Families of this name invariably in use without its prefix 'O', will descend from one of the O'Cobhtaigh sept. One was from south-western County Cork, another belonged to County Westmeath and another to County Roscommon; the first of these appears to have the largest progeny as Coffey families are most numerous in Munster. The inland Leinster county of Westmeath was created late in the reign of King Henry VII by hiving off the western part of Meath. County Westmeath is thus bounded on the east by County Meath; its southern boundary is with County Offaly. On the north Westmeath is bounded by the counties of Meath, Cavan and Longford, and on the west by County Longford and County Roscommon. There was scarcely any commercial enterprise in the county a hundred years ago save for the sale of agricultural produce, and at Mullingar, two tanneries and a brewery and malting establishment.The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the father's Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. Early records of the name mention Murragh O'Cobhthaidh, who was the bishop of Derry and Raphoe in the year 1173. Thomas le Coffey was documented in Ireland in the year 1298. Thomas Coffee and Winifred Hillman were married at St. James's, Clerknwell, London in the year 1704. William Jakins and Bidey Coffee were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1803. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour.
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