Recorded as Cockle, Cockell, Cockhill, Cockill, and possibly others, this is usually an English surname. It has two possible origins. The most romantic is from the pre 9th century Olde French word "cokille", meaning a shell or cockle. As such the surname as a nickname, may have been applied to pilgrims to the Holy Land. It is known that such people sewed shells on their clothes as a sign of pilgrimage. A cockle-hat was a hat with the symbol of a shell on it, also worn as a sign of pilgrimage. The second possibility is that the name is locational from Cockhill. There are several places so named, in Somerset, the North Riding of Yorkshire, and even Scotland, although this place does not seem to have been a source of surname. They are believed to mean the hill of the Cocca tribe, an early people, but Cocca can also mean 'son,' so other interpretations are possible. Examples of early recordings include Margery Cockel, who was christened at Croston, Lancashire on October 3rd 1550, whilst Joan Cocle married Owen Lewes at Staplehurst, Kent on January 4th 1557. Richard Cockhill married Joan Daie at Pembury in Kent on October 14th 1565, and Sir James Cockle (1819 - 1895) was the Chief Justice of Queensland (1863 - 1879) and a noted mathematician. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Cockel. This was dated 1198, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northampton", during the reign of Richard 1st, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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