Last name: Cowgill

This name has two possible derivations, the first from the early Medieval English or Olde French "cokille" which means "a shell" or "cockle". This surname may have been applied to pilgrims to the Shrine of St. James of Compostella who sewed shells on their clothes as a sign of pilgrimage. A cockle-hat (with a shell stuck on it) was also worn as a sign of pilgrimage. The second possibility is that Cockle is a locational name (of Cockhill) from a spot thus named in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The name has been corrupted to Cowgill or Cockell in some directories. Margery Cockel was christened at Croston, Lancashire on October 3rd 1550, while Joan Cocle married Owen Lewes at Staplehurst, Kent on January 4th 1557. Richard Cockill married Joan Daie at Pembury Kent on October 14th 1565. Sir James Cockle (1819 - 1895) a notable namebearer was Chief Justice of Queensland (1863 - 1879) and a noted mathematician who was knighted in 1869. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Cockel, which was dated 1198, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northampton", during the reign of Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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