This surname of COX was derived from the Middle English COC - meaning haycock, hill, hillock - dweller by the hill. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land. The name in Ireland is Mac an Choiligh. This is a County Roscommon name and its variants include MacGilly and Magilly. Early records of the name mention Aluuinus Coc who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book in 1086. Osbern Cocc of the County of Northumberland was documented in the year 1175. Thomas Cokk of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Walter Cox of the County of Oxfordshire in 1515.
John Coxe of Yorkshire, registered at Oxford University in the year 1546. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. 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. The name is also spelt Cocks, Cockson and Cox. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. 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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