HEACOCK SURNAME RESOURCE CENTER

THE ORIGIN OF THE HEACOCK SURNAME

. The following excerpts are from the CHarles Clement Heacock book available, in part, for viewing on this page, by using the early writings link in the table on the home page. Then you will go to the Writings index (home), page. As with anything on this page, contributions and corrections would be most welcome. I may not add changes immediately but I will not ignore them either.

The earliest records of the Heacock family are found in Staffordshire, England. These records beginning with a burial in 1575 go back just about as far as the records of any middle - class family can go, as the registers of English churches began no earlier than 1538, when Cromwell issued an order requiring the recording of baptisms, marriages, and burials.

The name of Heacock, in its present form, is not much older, There were no middle class family names in medieval times. While the first traces of them in England are observed at the time of William the Conqueror (1066), they had not become general until the fifteenth or sixteenth century. Names did not originate suddenly, but evolved as did the words of ordinary language, and the fixed spelling is relatively new. The first Heacock to touch the shores of America spelled his name Heycock, Heacock, and Haycock, and a few generations earlier wider variations are noted, the recorders having apparently entered the name in the registers just as it happened to sound to them, with no regard for uniformity.

Several accounts of the origin of the name have been given by various writers on the subject. There is no doubt as to the fact that Heacock is of Saxon ( i.e. Germanic) origin, and not Latin. Thus the COCK does not come from the Latin coquus, French coq, and has no connection with the English designation for a male chicken.

Mark Anthony Lower M. A. , in his "English Surnames discusses suggestions which have been made regarding the origin of the syllable "cock", so frequent in surnames. While Peacock, Woodcock, and others come from animals and may be derived from the Latin "coquus", he rejects suggestions that the syllable as such is derived from "coquus" or from "cook" as others have suggested. "Cock" is instead a diminutive ending from the old Frisian (Saxon), and has the same significance as the French "ette", which we use in kitchenette. Except for proper names, the syllable has disappeared from the English Language, but he cites a few examples of the survival of the old meaning:

"In Lincolnshire a little fussy person is called a Cockmarshall, also elsewhere: Cock - O - my thumb... nor must we forget the use of mysterious syllable in the ancient nursery rhyme of - Ride a cock - horse

To Bambury Cross. -

where little horse is evidently intended. Cockney originally meant a spoiled or effeminate boy."

The Rev. Henry Barber , M.D., F.S.A., wrote a book in 1903 called "British Family Names", which contains the following discussion of the syllable "cock":

"The diminutives, Frisian, ken, ke, ock, and cock .... there has been much controversy over the termination "cock". It appears to be derived from the Frisian gok or kok, a foolish, silly, awkward person, hence the Scotch "gow." The Frisian Jankok ( Johncock ) is equivalent to the German "Hans Wurst". At first applied to children as a check to thoughtlessness, it would become gradually used as diminutive. Cock and ock are akin to ke. In some cases cock is a corruption of cot found in local names."

The origin of the first syllable of the name is less clearly explained. Americana ( American Historical Magazine) , Volume XIX, 1925, page 479, gives the following explanation of the origin of "Heacock" which, it will be noted, accepts the previously given explanations for the final syllable:

"The name comes from an old German word, ikiko, contemporary in the tenth century, which is a diminutive form of the old Frisian "ig", a point, sharp edge, i.e., a little sword. This form developed through the English as Heacock and Hickox. The name itself is subject to a great variety of forms. These range from Hitchcock, Hickock, down to Hickox, Hicks, and Heacock. In this line the patronymic is spelled Hickcox.

The writer of this article does not give his sources, and his connecting of the Heacocks with Hicks, Hickox, etc., does not agree with the conclusions of Lower and Barber. A large dictionary of the German used in the tenth century, in the Library of Congress, does not contain "ikiko" or anything similar. There is however, a word in modern German which may be derived form the old "ig", and which preserves the implication of "a point". It is "igel" ( porcupine ).

Barber has the following explanations under his alphabetical list of name meanings in the book already cited:

Heacock: see Haycock. Haycock; A hill in Cumberland, or Frisian: Heike; Flemish; Haeck; Anglo- Saxon: Hecca; Dutch: Heek, Haeij; Kak; personal name diminuative of Frisian Hayo, see Heyhoe.

Heyhoe: Anglo - Saxon: Heio; Frisian:Hayo, Heie, Hei, Swedish: Ey; Dutch: Heij; German: Hey, Heyer; personal name ( high).

These are evidently names or syllables from which Heacock may have evolved or with which the name may be related.

Lower in his "English Surnames" Has another explanation for Haycock. He says it is probably a name given to a foundling exposed in a hay field. In this case, the "cock" would not refer to a mound of hay, but would have the pure diminutive significance, "a little one".

According to Robertson, "British Heraldry" the Heacock coat of arms was granted in 1746. It is described as "Erminois, an elephant azure on a chief of the second a sun between two beehives or, Crest: a hind secant ermonois collored gules, reposing his Dexter on a beehive or". The arms and crest, printed in color, may also be found in the Volume of Americana referred to above. They are also described in fairbairns "Crests".Please note that the Heacock coat of arms has never been awarded to any Heacock directly related to those in North America. We are not really entitled to display them. Actually, no one will arrest a Heacock if he feels like displaying the coat of arms as there are no coat of arms police! K.S.H.

RETURN TO HEACOCK SURNAME RESOURCE CENTER

transcribed 11/21/1998 by Kenneth S. Heacock

original chapter 3, page 11-13

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