Wilcox Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Wilcox Meaning
English surnames such as Wilcock or Hancock married the personal
names of Will (a
pet form of William) or of Hann (a pet form of John) with the suffix cock
was a nickname for a young lad.
Wilcock, like Hancock, has been mainly a west
country name. It appeared as Wilkoks in
Wales, Wylcock in Somerset, and Wilcoc in Cheshire during the 13th
century. Wilcox is the main
spelling today
. Other spellings
are Willcox, Wilcock, Willcock,
and Willcocks.

Wilcox Resources on

Wilcox Ancestry

England. There
had been a Wilcocks family at Lydd on the Kent coast since the early
1400’s. William Wilcocks of Jacques
Court represented the port of New Romney in Parliament in 1572, as did
brother Edward. A descendant John
Wilcocks moved to Hitchin in Hertfordshire where he died in 1636.

But the main
Wilcox presence was west. Henry Guppy in his 1890 book Homes of
Family Names
wrote the
following about Wilcox:

“Wilcox is characteristic of Somerset, Gloucestershire,
and Nottinghamshire; Willcox of Somerset; Willcock and Willcocks of
Devon; and
Wilcock of Lancashire and the West Riding.”

has the largest numbers
name extended wider than Guppy had suggested – from Somerset in the
through Gloucestershire and Warwickshire northwards into Staffordshire

  • in Bristol, Barnabus Wilcox was a Quaker who departed
    his family for
    Pennsylvania in 1683. He was a rope
    maker by trade.
  • in
    Warwickshire, there were local gentry Wilcox
    near Coventry and at Tysoe near Stratford (these
    Wilcox subsequently
    moved to
  • in Staffordshire, one early record was the marriage of
    Jone and Francis Wilcox at St. Mathew church in Walsall in 1598.
  • while Robert
    Wilcox, born in Chester in 1558, was a Catholic priest who was martyred
    Canterbury in 1588.

was the main spelling in Lancashire and across the
border in Yorkshire. A Wilcock family in Chorley dates back to
Alexander Wilcock
who married Ann Finch, the daughter of his business partner, in 1629. These Wilcocks held Wilcock farm in nearby
Rivington in the late 1600’s and later Wilcock House in Chorley (which
stands). Michael Wilcock, born in
Chorley in 1780, was the forebear of Wilcocks who emigrated to Canada
in the

A Wilcock line in
Ribblesdale in north Yorkshire dates back to William Wilcock of North
Cote in
the hamlet of Selside in 1774. He and
his descendants were farmers there and remained so until 1996 when the
farm was

Willcock and Willcocks
These have
been mainly Devon names. Simon Willcock
who died in Sheepstor in 1720 was the forebear of one Devon family. Thomas Willcocks was a piano builder in
Exeter in the 1820’s. Sadly he and three
of his children died during a cholera epidemic in the town in 1832. Mary Willcocks, born near Ermington in south
Devon, was a successful writer of romantic novels in the early 1900’s.

James and Elizabeth Willcocks were married at
Horton in nearby Dorset in 1745. By 1800
their family name had changed to Wilcox.

The origins of Captain William
Willcocks of the Bengal Horse
the time of the 1857 Indian Mutiny are unclear.
But the careers of two of his sons, both born in India, were
remarkable. Sir William was a civil
engineer who proposed and built the first Aswan dam in Egypt; while Sir
was a British army officer who commanded the Indian
troops in
Europe during the First World War.

Wilcockson. Wilcockson
was another spelling variant, found really only in Derbyshire. Some Wilcocksons emigrated in the 17th
century to America where they later became Wilcox.

Ireland. Wilcocks was a family name
found in the 1659
Dublin census. Quaker Wilcocks, possibly
from Bristol, settled there and prospered.
Joshua Wilcocks was a Dublin merchant in the 1690’s, followed by
his son
Issachar. Robert Wilcocks grew rich at
the Quaker stronghold of Mountmellick and had money enough to purchase
Palmerston estate outside Dublin in 1705.

When Robert died in 1711, he left the
property to his nephew, also Robert. He
and his son Robert held Palmerston until 1763.
There were two later offspring – Joseph and Richard Willcocks,
dubbed the traitor and the knight
– who had
contrasting fortunes. Joseph left for
Canada where he was considered a traitor.
Richard stayed in Ireland, became Deputy Inspector of the Royal
Constabulary, and was knighted on his retirement.

America. There were three
main early lines into New England, none of whom apparently coming from
the west
country of England:

  • William and Margaret Wilcockson from Derbyshire who
    on the Planter in 1635 and settled in
    Stratford, Connecticut. The family name
    here became Wilcox by the 1700’s.
  • Edward and Susanna Wilcox from Lincolnshire
    who came to Rhode Island around 1638. Benjamin
    Wilcox of this family was among the Loyalists who
    departed for
    Canada with his family in 1787.
  • and John Wilcox from Suffolk who was recorded as
    one of the first settlers of Hartford, Connecticut in 1639. His son John moved to Middletown in 1653.

line of William Wilcockson
covered in Thomas Wilcox’s 1963 book Descendants
of William Wilcockson of Derbyshire and Stratford

Among his descendants
were Josiah Wilcox who migrated to Ohio, Abner Wilcox a missionary to
and Edward Wilcox a doctor in Illinois, plus a number who made their
home in
upstate New York:

  • Levi Wilcox came to Ticonderoga as a practicing
    physician. His dedication led to his
    death in 1837, being thrown from his horse and getting killed while on
    mission of mercy.
  • while Lester Wilcox settled in Montgomery county. His son William fought in the Civil War, but
    was captured in 1863 and spent fifteen months in Confederate prisons.

Barnabus Wilcox was a Quaker from Bristol who emigrated to
in 1683 with his wife and five children.
Barnabus died there seven years later.

George Wilcockson from Derbyshire,
also a Quaker, arrived in Chester county in 1719. John,
maybe his son, was born a year later
and married
Sarah Boone, sister of the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone. They raised many children, went with Daniel
into Kentucky, and were commemorated on the Fort Boonesborough

descendants were known as Boonies. Several
of their lines did change their name from Wilcockson to Wilcox; while
held onto Wilcockson or a variation thereof.

One Wilcox line via
Isaiah Wilcox led to North Carolina and the Baptist preacher the Rev.
Wilcox. Reuben Wilcox was a house member
of the Greene County Assembly in 1818.
One son John served in the Confederate Congress during the Civil
another son Cadmus was a Confederate general.

California. Harvey Wilcox, born in New
York, and his wife
Ida moved out to Los Angeles in 1883.

“Harvey and Ida had one child, a son named
Harry, who died in 1886 at the age of 18 months. Family
tradition said that to console
themselves over the death of their baby, Harvey and Ida would take
buggy rides
to the beautiful canyons west of Los Angeles. Harvey then purchased one
their favorite areas for $150 per acre.”

His wife named the tract Hollywood. By the
early 1900’s Hollywood
had become the center of the American movie industry.

Hawaii. There were two Yankee Wilcox
lines in

Abner Wilcox from Connecticut arrived as a missionary in 1837 and made
his home at Hilo. His sons Albert and
George developed sugar plantations on the islands and became prominent

Captain William Wilcox from Rhode Island arrived on a whaling ship
in 1843 and married a local woman. Their
son Robert, known as the Iron Duke of Hawaii, took up the Hawaiian
cause and
led uprisings against both the old compromised monarchy and the
subsequent American
republic in the late 1800’s. He was
elected as the first delegate to the US Congress from Hawaii.

There were some early Wilcoxes from Rhode Island in America who
came to

  • Benjamin Wilcox arrived in Nova Scotia in 1760 soon after
    the French had
    left. He was recorded as dying there in
    1813 at the age of ninety-three.
    It is thought that James Wilcox – who was born in
    1819 and established the Wilcox hardware business in Windsor, Nova
    Scotia – was
    a descendant.
  • Hazard Wilcox, the son of Edward and Mercy
    Wilcox and an Empire Loyalist, fled with his family to Canada in 1777
    losing his property in New York following the Battle of Bennington. He died in battle three years later. His son Hazard made his home on land granted
    to the family in Leeds county, Ontario. However,
    he later returned to America, settling in Missouri
    in 1812.
  • and
    another Benjamin Wilcox, the son of William and Deborah Wilcox and also
    Loyalist, arrived from New Jersey in 1787. He
    settled in Grimsby in Lincoln county, Ontario. In
    later life he moved in with his son
    Richard near Simcoe in Norfolk county where he died in 1812. Many of Richard’s offspring later returned to
    the US.

Willcocks and his nephew Joseph
both left Ireland for Canada under something of a cloud – William
because of
his failed business enterprises and Joseph for his suspected support
for the
1798 Irish Rebellion. Both ended up in
Toronto. William’s failures
continued. Joseph turned traitor and
joined the Americans during the War of 1812.

Wilcox brothers
from St. Neots in Huntingdonshire began emigrating to South Australia. First in 1858 came the eldest son Thomas who
established a successful grocery and drapery business in Gawler. His brothers George, Emery and Joseph soon
joined him.

It was George Wilcox who returned with his bride Annie on the City
of Adelaide
in 1864 who was to have the greatest success. His
business was based on his acumen in buying and importing goods from
Britain and
Europe and selling them in South Australia.
He later became a wool and produce merchant, specializing
in hides
and skins.


Wilcox Miscellany

The Suffix “Cock” in Wilcock.  The Old English word cocc or cock meant a “‘male bird or fowl” and was applied to a young lad who strutted proudly like a
cock.  It soon became a generic term for
a youth.   The nickname may also have
referred to a natural leader, or an early riser, or a lusty or

The medieval personal name
Cock was still in use in the late 13th century.

Wilcox and Its Variants Today

‘000’s Wilcox Willcox Wilcock Willcock Willcocks Total
UK    12     3     6     1     2    24
America    25     1    26
Elsewhere    10     1     1     1    13
Total    47     5     7      1     3    63

Wilcox has been mainly a west country name in England.  The Wilcock spelling has been strong in Lancashire, Willcocks in Devon.

Wilcockson Origins.  Wilcockson is a name found in England really only in Derbyshire.  Some have speculated that it has Welsh origins.

The root of the name here would
be Will Coch where Will was indicative
of the William
mountain in Snowdonia and Coch meant
“red” in Welsh.  John ap Will Coch lived in Montgomeryshire where he owned
land and grew
flax.  The Welsh ap Will Coch then
as Will Coch son in Derbyshire which became Wilcockson.  However, there
is a huge gap in time – close
to three hundred years – between the Will Coch personage in Wales and
the Wilcockson appearance in Derbyshire.

DNA testing has shown
that the two Wilcockson lines in America – those of William in New
England and
John from Pennsylvania – are connected quite closely.

The Wilcox of Brandon and Wolston in Warwickshire.  A Wilcox family had been settled in the Brandon and Wolston area near Coventry since the late 1400’s.
A prominent member of this family was Robert
Wilcox of Brandon who flourished in the early years of the 17th century.   He was a Commissioner for the county and
had his own seat adjoining the vicar at Wolston church.

Wilcox pedigree was entered at the Heralds’ Visitation of 1682, though
Wilcox of Brandon was told that “he must make better proof of the arms
on his
seal before he can be permitted the use of them.”

In 1712
John had come into possession of the manor of Wolston through marriage.  After his death in 1732, the manor did leave
the Wilcox family for a while, but was later re-acquired in 1826.  The house was located next to Wolston

Charles W. Wilcox, born in 1845, was the last of the
direct male line to
be lord of the manor.  His brother Henry
meanwhile was the vicar at Wolston from 1876 to 1908.
Charles had been a county magistrate for
Warwickshire for over fifty years. He was at one period a member of the
Warwickshire Hunt and a prominent follower.
His coverts usually held some stout foxes.

In his day the manor house was a large house which
employed a
considerable staff of cooks and butlers; while outside there were
gardeners, farm-hands and keepers.
Joseph Drinkwater was the coachman to Charles Wilcox for fifty

Charles died in 1926 the house was sold with its contents and then
demolished.  The estates passed to
his married daughter Mary and she later made them over to her son
Charles who
assumed the name of Wilcox.

William Wilcockson in New England.  William Wilcockson
from Wirksworth in Derbyshire came to America on the Planter
which sailed from London to New England on the morning of
April 2, 1635.

The Customs House records
in London stated that William was a linen weaver by trade and at the
time of
his departure was thirty-four years old.
His wife Margaret was twenty-four at the time and their son John

William, having settled with his family in Concord, was
made a freeman in
the Massachusetts colony in 1636, prior to moving to Stratford,
Connecticut in
1639.  He was a juryman in Hartford in
1647.  At the time of his death in 1651, he left behind a widow
and five

His sons Timothy and John remained in Stratford, but
Joseph settled in
Killingworth in 1661.  Samuel eventually
settled in Simsbury and Obadiah in East Guilford (now Madison). 

The Two Willcocks Brothers – The Traitor and the Knight.  There were two Willcocks
brothers born in Ireland who had contrasting fortunes.
The elder son Richard became Deputy Inspector
General of the Royal Irish Constabulary and was knighted; while the younger son
Joseph emigrated to Canada and deserted to the Americans in the War of
1812.  If he had not been killed at the
Battle of Fort Erie he would probably have been hanged.

Richard Willcocks

1807 to 1827 Richard worked in different parts of Ireland as a

His work was involved in “obtaining private information,
apprehending the principal offenders, bringing them to trial, securing
witnesses, and preventing them from being tampered with.”
In this he was very successful.  For
instance, he was able to apprehend and
commit to prison thirty-five persons concerned in Emmet’s insurrection
Dublin.  In 1814 Sir Robert Peel, then
Secretary for Ireland, appointed Richard Willcocks as Chief Magistrate
command the first detachment of the newly-formed Peace Preservation

resigned from his position in 1827 because of ill-health and was
bestowed a
knighthood because of his exemplary service.
He died in 1834 and, like many of the family, was buried in the
plot at Chapelizod near Dublin.

Joseph Willcocks

Joseph left his home in Ireland and emigrated to
Canada in 1799.  He went to Toronto
because he had been promised land there by his cousin William Willcocks
in Canada.

According to John Lee who has studied him:

”Joseph revealed himself as a
scion of Anglo-Irish gentry.  His debts were to tailors and
bootmakers.  He dressed the fine gentleman
and had a cane
made of oak with a fine brass monogrammed head.
He was frequently drunk and drank heavily with his fellow
radicals.  He loved good food, fine claret,
clothing, and fishing, hunting, racing, shooting and boating.”

Joseph was a
critic of British military rule and had been a troublemaker from the
day he
arrived from Ireland.  When the War of
1812 broke out, he found himself eyed with great suspicion by many who
he had taken part against the British in Ireland in the 1798 Rebellion.

In 1813
he began corresponding with the American Secretary of State, passing on
information about British troop movements.
Later on that year he defected to the US army at Fort George and
a force of expatriate Canadians calling themselves the Canadian
Volunteers.  He was killed a year later
at the Battle of Fort Erie when the British were successful in driving
the Americans
out of the fort.

George and Annie Wilcox and the City of Adelaide.  No
passengers have been more closely identified
with the City of Adelaide than George
and Annie Wilcox.  Having been married
only a few weeks, George, aged twenty-six, and Annie, aged twenty-four,
boarded this brand-new ship in August 1864 to sail for South Australia
and to
set up home in Gawler.

They were aboard the same ship on a trip to revisit
England when Annie gave birth at sea to a son, George Seaborne Wilcox,
on 30
January 1873, twenty-five days before they docked in London.  In the following year Annie returned to South
Australia on the City of Adelaide with four of the

At least two large shipments of goods were sent from
London to the
Wilcox business in Gawler on the City of
– 636 packages in 1864 and 492 cases in 1865.  It is little wonder that a descendant
arranged to have a model of the ship built many years later.


Wilcox Names

  • Thomas Wilcox was a controversial Puritan scholar and preacher in London in the late 1500’s. 
  • Robert Wilcox, known as the Iron Duke of Hawaii, led uprisings against the old compromised monarchy
    and the new American republic there in the late 1800’s. 
  • Sir James Willcocks, born in India, was a British army officer held high command over Indian troops on the Western Front during the First World War. 
  • Herbert Wilcox was one of the most successful British film-makers from the 1920’s to 1950’s.  He is best known for the films he made with his wife Anna Neagle.

Select Wilcox Numbers Today

  • 24,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 26,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 13,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Wilcox and Like Surnames

Many surnames originated from SW England, the principal counties there being Devon and Cornwall, Somerset and Gloucestershire.  These are some of the prominent and noteworthy surnames that you can check out.



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