This very unusual surname recorded in several spellings including Cockshead and Coxhead, is first recorded in London, England, in the 15th century. It is apparently a nickname and probably a euphemistic one for "a man about town". There are many theories as to the actual meaning, but without being there at the time when the name was bestowed some six hundred years ago, it is impossible to be certain. The famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley believed, or at least he said he believed, that it was a locational surname similar to Birkenhead, but he could not provide a location. Another theory is that it must have been regarded as polite and a compliment or like Rattlepate and Stinkinfisch, two examples from the medieval times, it would long since have been lost or adapted. The fact is that it has survived, although in small numbers, and it seems to have remained a London name, or at least one from the South East of the country. Examples of the recordings over the centuries include Thomas Cokkesheade, which is believed to be the first, in the London registers of the year 1424, Martha Cockshead, who married John Winter at Canterbury, Kent in 1635, and Thomas Coxhead, who married Isabel Atkinson, at St George's Chapel, Hanover square, London, in 1798.
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