This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and can be either a locational surname from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place, or a topographical name for someone who lived by a "cock croft", an enclosure where poultry was raised. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "cocc", cock, with "croft", paddock, small holding. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. As a locational surname, Cockcroft or Cockroft may derive from a place named with the same elements as the topographical name, which has now disappeared. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets in England are known to have disappeared in Britain since circa 1100, due to such natural disasters as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, or to the widespread practice of "clearing" large areas of land to make sheep pastures during the height of the wool-trade in the 15th Century. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of William Cockroft and Martha Hodges on March 3rd 1656, at All Hallows, London Wall, and the christening of John, son of John Cockroft and Elizabeth Osborne, on October 4th 1685. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Cocckecroft, which was dated 1296, in the "Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield", Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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