Select Cobb Surname Genealogy

Cobb was 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

Select Cobb Resources on The Internet

Select Cobb Ancestry

EnglandCobb 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 son Sir William Cobb fought on the Parliamentarian side during the Civil War.  Thomas Cobb departed for Boston in 1685.
  • 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 Winchelsea.
  • 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 of Dublin in 1736, made his home at Newbridge House and established the Cobbe Irish line.
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 in 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 leading 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.

.  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 Frances 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.

  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.  

New 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 with his cousins Edward and Augustine.  Edward’s line were iron founders and followed this trade to Morris county, New Jersey in the 1740’s.  Cisby Cobb moved from there to North Carolina in 1790 and his grandsons to Fannin county, Texas in the 1850’s.   
  • and from Thomas Cobb of Oxfordshire, also a blacksmith, who came to Boston in 1685.  After his wife died he moved to Hingham, Massachusetts where his son Richard resided.   Some Cobbs here settled in Cape Cod.  One line of the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio in the 1840’s. 
Virginia 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 1613.

“The term “ancient planter” applied to those persons who arrived in Virginia before 1616, remained for a period of three years, and paid their passage. They received the first patents for land in the new world in 1618.”

settled 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, was 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.  

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 their descendants by the time of the Civil War.

Luminaries 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 Scenes. 
  • and Howell Cobb, Governor of Georgia and the US Secretary of the Treasury in the 1850’s, as well as his younger brother Thomas R.R. Cobb, a Confederate Major General killed during the Civil War. 
From different roots came Ty Cobb, nicknamed “the Georgia Peach” and the best baseball player in America during the early 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 between 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.

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.
A 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 island.   

.  The best-known Cobb in Australia – Freeman Cobb of the 19th century Cobb and Co. stagecoach company - was in fact an 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.

Select Cobb Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select 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 1854.
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 Cobbs 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page