This interesting surname with variant spelling Caukill is a variant of 'Cockell' which has two possible origins, the first from the 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 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. John and Martha Cawkill had a quintuplet of children christened in 1859, George Edward, John Alfred, and Thomas on September 6th and Isabella Elizabeth and William Thomas on November 8th at St. Andrews Holborn, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Cockel, which was dated 1198 - The Pipe Rolls of Northampton, during the reign of Richard 1, '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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