Recorded as Cousin, and the patronymics which include Cousins, Cosens, Cossans and Cosans, this interesting surname is English. It is derived from the pre 10th century Old French word "cosin or cusin", from the Latin "consobrinus", which in Shakespearean English, had the general meaning of a relative or kinsman, and more recently first cousin. The name therefore has two possible origins. It may have denoted relationship in some way to a prominent figure in the neighbourhood, or secondly in some cases it may have been a nickname for someone who used the term "cousin" frequently as a familiar term of address. A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. Today the patronymics would seem to constitute the most frequent forms of the name. An interesting namebearer was Alexander Cozens who died in 1786. He was a landscape painter in water-colours, but who was born in Russia, and was reputed to be the natural son of Czar Peter, the Great. He studied art in Italy and settled in England in 1746. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Cusin. This was dated 1166, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, 1154 - 1189. 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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