This French, Italian and English surname of COURSEN was of two-fold origin. The Middle English was rendered in the form COUSIN, and in Old French was spelt CUSIN. In the Middle Ages, as in Shakespearean English had the general meaning of relative or kinsman. The surname would have thus denoted a person related in someway to a prominent figure in the neighbourhood. In some cases it may also have been a nickname for someone who used the term frequently as a familiar term of address. The old slang word COZEN meaning 'cheat' perhaps derived from the medieval confidence tricksters use of the word COUSIN, as a term of address to invoke as spurious familiarity. The name is also spelt COUSEN, COSIN, CUSSEN, CUZEN, and CUGINI. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Early records of the name mention Aethelstane Chusin AD 977 Canterbury, Kent. Roger Cusin, was documented in the year 1166 in the County of Norfolk. Thomas Cossin of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. William le Cusyn, ibid. Edmund Cosin was Vice-chancellor of Cambridge University in the year 1558. Samuel Cousins (1801-1887) was the English engraver, born in Exeter. In 1814 he was apprenticed to Samuel William Reynolds and in 1826, started his own account and produced the 'Master Lambton' which at once established his reputation. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour.
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