Recorded in the spellings of Cotgrave and Cotgrove, this is a locational English surname from a place called "Cotgrave" near the midlands city of Nottingham. The place name was first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as "Codegrave", and again in 1095 as "Cotagrava" which seems to be more accurate. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Olde English "cota" meaning a cottage and "graf" - a grove or wood, the cottage amongst the trees. The famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley suggests that there may have been two villages, one in Cheshire. Apparently a family of Cotgraves of that county claimed to trace their ancestry back to William Belward, lord of Malpas, an original peerage created by William, The Conqueror. This is perhaps irrelevant to the origin of the name except their claim to come from a place called Cotgrave in Cheshire and to be originally styled "De Cotgrave". Certainly the earliest recordings are very ancient, although the first recordings would seem to be from Nottingham area. Early examples include Ralph Cotgreave of Christelton, Cheshire, whose will was proved there in 1588, and George Cotgrave, in the same Wills List but for 1612. The first known example of the surname recording is that of Ralph de Cotegrave, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Nottingham in 1273. This was in the first year of the reign of the famous King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307.
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