Cobb Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Cobb Meaning
probably a nickname that then evolved into a surname in England. It has Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon origins,
from the word kobbi meaning “lump,”
and would likely describe a large,
well-built and
impressive man.
Cobbe was an early
spelling. Leuric Cobbe, probably a Saxon, was recorded in Suffolk
in the 1086
Domesday Book.
In some cases the name may represent a shortened version of Jacob.

Cobb Resources on

Cobb Ancestry

England. Cobb
or Cobbe seems to have started out as a name of East Anglia and SE
England. Three notable early families
came from Norfolk, Kent, and Hampshire:

  • Cobbes
    were recorded at Sandringham in
    Norfolk possibly as early as 1270. They
    were to remain there for the next four hundred years.
    By the time of the death
    of Alice Cobb
    in 1627, Cobbs were to be found at Adderbury
    near Banbury in Oxfordshire as well. Alice’s
    Sir William Cobb fought on the Parliamentarian side during the Civil
    War. Thomas Cobb departed for Boston in
  • Cobbs
    at Cobb Court on Romney Marsh in Kent date from about 1300. A branch of the family had settled at Reculver
    on the north Kent coast some fifty years later. Ambrose
    Cobbs from this line emigrated with
    his family to Virginia in 1635.
  • Cobbe
    also appeared in Sussex around the year 1300, being found at Icklesham
    and later appearing in nearby towns such as Hastings, Rye and
  • while
    a Cobbe line at Swaraton in Hampshire was
    traceable possibly back to Cobbes in the early/mid 1300’s and
    definitely back
    to William Cobbe in 1450. Charles Cobbe, appointed the Archbishop
    Dublin in
    1736, made his home at Newbridge House and established the Cobbe Irish

There were other early Cobbs
and Cobbes
in Norfolk. John Cobbe was the vicar at
Ranworth in the late-1400’s. By the late
1500’s the name had become quite widespread throughout the county.

London was a
draw. Steven Cobbe, the son of William
Cobb of Peterbridge in Norfolk, was recorded as a haberdasher in London
1566. John Cobb, apprenticed in Norwich in the 1720’s, became a
prominent London
cabinet-maker and upholsterer.

The Cobbs of Margate in
Kent, beginning with William Cobb who was born there in 1695, were
businessmen of that town a century later.
Bankers and brewers, they became associated with the
anti-slavery movement.

. The Cobb surname surfaced on the east coast
of Scotland in the mid-1500’s, primarily in Brechin and Angus. Richard Cobb, born around 1562 in Aberdeen,
settled in Holland where he married Sybil Sheetz in 1587.
Their son Joseph, born a year later, was an
early arrival in Virginia.

Ireland. There was a prominent
Anglo-Irish Cobbe
family in Dublin following Charles Cobbe’s arrival as Archbishop of
Dublin in
1736. The family established themselves at Newbridge House where they
remain to
this day. Their numbers included some notable
Irish politicians,
clergymen, writers and soldiers, such as the writer and social reformer
Power Cobbe and General Sir Alexander Cobbe VC.

The Cobbe name was to be found
among the 500 or so Huguenots from France who had settled at
Portarlington in
Laios in the 17th century. Richard Cobbe,
a farmer, was recorded at Deerpark there in 1758. Charles
Cobbe emigrated with his family to
Canada in 1913.

America. There were a number of early
Cobbs into New
England and Virginia, although none of them – according to recent DNA
testing –
seem to have been related.

England. There have been three
fairly well-recorded Cobb lines here:

  • from
    Henry Cobb of Kent who arrived in Boston in 1632 and settled in
    Barnstable on Cape Cod seven years later. He
    was a church deacon and later a church elder. His
    line was covered in Philip Cobb’s 1907
    book A History of the Cobb Family.
    One branch of the family moved to Portland,
    Maine in the early 1700’s; another branch to Connecticut and then in
    1780 with Gideon Cobb to
    Pawlet, Vermont and to
    points west and south.
  • from
    John Cobb, a
    blacksmith from Dorset, who emigrated to Taunton, Massachusetts in 1651
    his cousins Edward and Augustine. Edward’s
    line were iron founders and followed this trade to
    county, New Jersey in the 1740’s. Cisby
    Cobb moved from there to North Carolina in 1790 and his grandsons to
    county, Texas in the 1850’s.
  • and
    Thomas Cobb of Oxfordshire, also a blacksmith, who came to Boston in
    1685. After his wife died he moved to
    Massachusetts where his son Richard resided.
    Some Cobbs here settled in Cape Cod. One
    line of the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio in the

and the South
. Larger numbers came
through Virginia
and the South has a much larger Cobb population today.

Joseph Cobb, designated an “ancient planter,”
was in fact a very early arrival into Virginia, having come there on
the Treasoror in

term “ancient planter” applied to those persons who arrived in
Virginia before 1616, remained for a period of three years, and paid
passage. They received the first patents for land in the new world in

on land east of the James river. He
returned to England and then back to
Virginia to prepare for the arrival of his family in 1625.
They settled in Isle of Wight county. Benjamin
Cobb, born there in 1702,
a pioneer settler in
what was then western North Carolina. He
helped to create the new state of Tennessee.
This story was covered in Cully Cobb’s 1968 book The
Cobbs of Tennessee

Ambrose Cobbs from Kent arrived with his
family in 1635. His descendants settled
in York county, Virginia. A number from
Ambrose’s son Robert migrated to Georgia in the latter part of the 18th
century, founding the powerful Cobb dynasty there.

John Cobb came from London in
1642 and settled in Northampton county, Virginia. Cobbs
remained in Northampton and neighboring
Accomack counties for nigh on two hundred years. Some
of these Cobbs migrated to Tennessee in
the early/mid 1800’s.

Georgia. The
prominent Georgia branch of the Cobb family was founded by Thomas
‘Old Tom’ and John Addison Cobbs, great-great grandsons of Ambrose
Cobbs. These
two men would eventually drop the ‘s’ from their surname, as would
descendants by the time of the Civil War.

of these Georgia Cobbs were:

  • Howell
    Cobb, a US Congressman for Georgia from
    1806 to 1812.
  • Thomas
    W. Cobb, Governor of Georgia in the 1820’s, with Cobb
    county being named in his honor. His son
    Joseph was a Mississippi planter and the author of Mississippi
  • and
    Howell Cobb, Governor of Georgia and the US
    Secretary of the Treasury in the 1850’s, as well as his younger brother
    R.R. Cobb, a Confederate Major General killed during the Civil

different roots came Ty Cobb, nicknamed
“the Georgia Peach” and the best baseball player in America during the
1900’s. Ty
Cobb’s ancestry
took in Cobbs from the mountainous area of the
state and a forefather from Ireland.

. There were prominent Cobbs also in
Alabama. David Cobb moved there from
Tennessee in 1807. His son W.R.W. Cobb
was a US Congressman for Alabama bet
1847 and 1861. And John W. Cobb came from
Virginia in the
1820’s and was a planter in Ashville.
His son Rufus was Governor of Alabama from 1878 to 1882.

Canada. There
were early Cobb
comings and goings from Nova Scotia:

  • Silvanus
    Cobb from Plymouth, descended from
    the Barnstable line, arrived with the British army in Annapolis in 1746. He spent the next sixteen years on maritime
    duties before his death, reportedly in Havana, in 1762.
    His brother Jabez lived on in Halifax until
    his death in 1805.
  • while
    Thomas Cobb,
    born in Halifax in 1762, departed for Boston at the outbreak of the
    Revolutionary War. After the war he
    married and settled down in Camden, Maine.

Cobb family has been long
established on the island of Fogo off Newfoundland.
Harvey Cobb owned the local passenger and
delivery boats and purchased Quintal House on the island in the early
1900’s. Other Cobbs were fishermen. But poverty and lack of opportunity led many
later to abandon the island. Zita Cobb
who departed in the 1980’s and became a successful businesswoman
returned in
2013 to open a modern hotel perched on the edge of Fogo

. The best-known Cobb in Australia – Freeman
Cobb of the 19th century Cobb and Co. stagecoach company – was in fact
American who had arrived in Australia in 1853 at the time of the Gold
Rush. His roots were in Barnstable on
Cape Cod where many of his forebears had been sea captains


Cobb Miscellany

The Grave of Alice Cobb.  Alice Cobb was buried at
Adderbury in Oxfordshire in 1627.  Her
memorial reads as follows:

lies buried the body of Alice Cobb, widow,
sometime wife of William Cobb Esq, descended from the ancient family of
Cobbs of Sandringham in the county of Norfolk, by whom she was the
mother of
sixteen children, seven sons and nine daughters, all but three which
she lived
to see buried. The right worshipful Sir William Cobb, Knight was her
son.  She
lived a maid for nineteen years,a wife for
twenty-six years, and after her husband’s deathin October 1598, she
lived a
widow for thirty years, having performed the part of a constant loving
wife and
a kind and careful mother.  Resting
with the Almighty, whom her greatest care was ever to serve and fear.
She died
the 23rd of October, 1627.”

The Cobbs of Margate.  Between 1787 and 1834 the
Cobbs exercised considerable influence over the affairs of Margate.  So much was their dominance that one
contemporary dubbed them “King Cobb.”
Certainly it was the town’s development as a seaside resort in
the late
18th century that allowed Francis Cobb – the quintessential self-made
man – to
establish his business empire.

Francis had originally traded as “a baker and
gingerbread baker” before the brewery, the keynote of the family
fortune, was
founded in 1761.  There followed a
shipping agency which started in 1770 and a bank in 1785.  The
agency profited greatly from the slave
trade.  However, by the early 1800’s the
family had turned evangelical and then supported slavery’s abolition.

Interestingly Francis’s grandsons found it difficult to
reconcile their
humble origins with their prominent positions in civic life.  They therefore sought to doctor their
genealogy by adopting the heraldry of an extinct Cobb family that was
also of
Kentish descent.

The Cobbe Family and Newbridge House.  Newbridge
House was built by Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin, between 1747 and 1752.  The building still contains most of its
original furniture, the interiors including the red drawing room, the museum of
curiosities, and ornate plasterwork found throughout the house.

The Archbishop
was succeeded by his son Thomas who in 1751 married the daughter of the
Earl of
Tyrone.  She brought a wealth with her,
thus enabling major improvements to be made to the house.  In the
red drawing
room they lavishly entertained and hung many of the superb pictures
they had purchased.

eldest son Charles died in 1798 and the eldest grandson, also Charles,
heir apparent. He joined the army, served in India and returned to Bath
1805. Four years later he married Frances Conway and immediately went
to live
at Newbridge where he carried out much refurbishing with the aid of his

Charles Cobbe died in 1857 and was succeeded by his son, another
Charles.  He in turn died in 1886 leaving no male issue – his
estate passing to
his wife for her lifetime.  Prior to her death she persuaded
Thomas Maberley
Cobbe, a grand-nephew of her late husband, to return to Newbridge from
to take over the property.  He died young in 1914 and his infant
son Thomas
succeeded him.

Thomas did not marry.  On his death in 1985
he was succeeded by the
sons and daughters of his brother Francis.
At that time the Newbridge estate was acquired by Fingal county
but under a unique arrangement which allowed the Cobbes to continue to
it as a family home.

Thomas Cobb in the Revolutionary War.  According to
family legend, Thomas Cobb heft his home in Halifax, Nova Scotia at a
tender young
age to join the Continental Army in Boston.
The earliest form of this story is the application made by his
Elizabeth Cobb Avis to the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Here is the story in her words, written by
her at the age of ninety-two.

the commencement of the war of the American
Revolution my father at the age of seventeen joined the army and
marched with
them to West Point.  They often
suffered.  Night would overtake them in a
swamp so interminable that they would be obliged to spend it with their
feet in
the water.

first he served as drummer boy under the command of General
Knox.  He was at Valley Forge when
Lafayette visited the army and furnished them with blankets and shoes.  He had been trying to make himself shoes with
the legs of his boots.

was mustered out at Yorktown, went to Gardner in
Maine, and married Lucy Smith from Nantucket.
I am his tenth child, born in 1807.”

account offered a reason for
his departure from Halifax.  It stated
that his parents were Quakers and that he ran way to join the army
their wishes.

Gideon Cobb and His Descendants.  Gideon Cobb
who moved to the new town of Pawlet in Vermont in 1780 had some very
enterprising descendants.

son John was a pioneer settler in Rochester, New
York.  Two of his sons made fortunes
trading grain in Buffalo and New York.
But another son James fathered
a daughter by
his long-time housekeeper (who was then raised by his family).  This triggered ugly battles over wills when
his wife died and then when he died.

Another son was Elkanah whose sons
and Gideon started enterprising families in Indiana and Kentucky.  Gideon was one of the earliest settlers in
Eddyville, Kentucky.  Gideon’s son Robert
was father of R.L Cobb of Cobb’s Battery fame in the Civil War and
of humorist Irvin S. Cobb; while Gideon’s son Joshua was a prominent
figure in Clarksville, Tennessee before and after the Civil War. 

Ty Cobb’s Ancestry.  There were two notable Cobb lines in Georgia.

was the political Georgia Cobbs family of
English ancestry which produced such luminaries as Howell Cobb, Speaker
of the
US House of Representatives and Governor of Georgia, and his younger
Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, a Confederate Major General.
The other line had Irish antecedents – Jasper
Cobb who arrived from Ireland in 1755 – and traced back to the hills of
Carolina and Georgia.  This was Ty Cobb’s

Alfred Cobb was a Methodist minister who had tested the patience of his
parishioners by preaching to Indians and whites alike and then pushed
congregation to the limit by preaching against slavery.
In 1848 he and his family were run out of Heywood
county for their abolitionist beliefs.
They resettled in Union county, a more mountainous part of the
where slavery was not such an issue.  William’is son John – Ty’s
beloved Grandpa Johnny
–  was an anti-slavery Republican who
joined Lee’s army during the Civil War but failed to report for duty.

Ty’s father W.H. Cobb, whom Ty always
revered, was a school teacher.  He was
shot by his wife Amanda in 1905 while Ty was away pursuing his baseball
dreams.  Amanda was tried for voluntary
manslaughter, but acquitted by a jury.
Rumor had it that it was Amanda’s lover that had shot and killed

Reader Feedback – Cobb in Missouri and Oklahoma.  I am interested in finding more about my ancestors. I was told they spelled my surname Cobbs originally. I was raised in Oklahoma.

At the end of the Civil war, my grandpa Eli Cobb left Georgia, went to Tennessee, and shortly afterward moved to Jackson county, Missouri where he ran a trading post/general store.  One of Eli’s son’s, my father, Edgar Henry Cobb, was born in Jackson county, Missouri where he ran a general store and trading post.

When my dad Edgar Henry Cobb was still a small boy, my grandpa Eli Cobb participated in a land rush in Oklahoma, where he ran a general store/trading post and operated a ferry across a river near Clairmore. I was born Jessie Dalton Cobb. Later, my maternal grandmother and my mother had my name changed to William Gene Cobb.

Guy Cobb (

Cobb Names

  • Charles Cobbe,
    appointed Archbishop of
    Dublin in 1736, was the progenitor of the Anglo-Irish Cobbe family of Dublin. 
  • Howell Cobb served as the Governor of
    Georgia and the US Secretary of the Treasury during the 1850’s. 
  • Freeman Cobb started with his partners in Australia the famous stagecoach company of Cobb and Co. in
  • Ty Cobb was the most famous
    baseball player of his era in the early 1900’s.
    He played for the Detroit Tigers for twenty-two years between 1905 and 1927. 
  • Irvin S. Cobb was a well-known
    Southern humorist and raconteur who hosted the 1935 Academy Awards ceremony

Select Cobb Numbers Today

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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