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Coe: Family Name, Meaning, History, and More

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Coe: Family Name, Meaning, History, and More

The last name of a family can reveal a lot about its history and origin. If your family name is Coe, it is an ancient and unique name that dates back to the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England. The name has spread to various parts of the world over the years. Coe is currently the 14,241st most common family name worldwide and most prevalent in the United States. The Coe family name is also commonly found in England, Australia, and Canada.

We will explore the origin and meaning of the Coe family name, which is derived from the Old English word “coo,” meaning “jackdaw.” We will also highlight some notable individuals who share this last name and provide interesting facts and figures related to it.

Origin and Meaning of the Coe Family Name

The Coe surname has its roots in Anglo-Saxon times and was first recorded in Lancashire, where the Coes had a family seat. The name originated from the Norse word “ka” or “cā,” which means “jackdaw.” A jackdaw is a type of blackbird that is similar in appearance to a raven or crow. Moreover, the Old English word for jackdaw was “coo.”

Historians speculate that the name was given to someone who looked like the bird, which later became the person's nickname and eventually the family name. During this period, people were often given nicknames based on physical features, personality traits, clothing, or job habits. Additionally, one of the early family crests features a blackbird.

The Coe family has British roots, but there is little information available about their history in England. According to Henry Brougham Guppy's 1890 book, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, individuals with this surname primarily resided in the English counties of Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk. Moreover, Shere, Surrey, and Cambridgeshire were also places where the greatest number of people with this last name lived.

The Coe Family Name In the United States

Many members of the family immigrated around the world, particularly to the United States, during periods of religious and political upheaval. Coe family members were among the first settlers in the United States. Many were Puritans who settled in New England to escape religious persecution. 

Here are the names of some notable early settlers of the United States who were named Coe.

  • Thomas Coe was a gentleman who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.
  • In 1634, Robert Coe traveled from Ipswich to Watertown on a ship called Francis. However, there is another record of Robert Coe living in Massachusetts in the same year, but it is uncertain whether it is the same person.
  • Robert Coe, born in 1596, is considered the founder of the Coe family in America. He died in 1687.
  • Mrs. Jane Coe, possibly the wife of Robert Coe, arrived in New England in 1635.

In 1840, approximately 160 Coe families lived in New York, making it the state with the highest concentration of the last name. This number increased in 1880, but in recent decades, the Coe family name has seen about a ten percent decline in census numbers.

In the 2010 census, the Coe family name was the 2,157th most common name in the United States, with approximately 16,819 respondents saying that this is their last name. Over 84.6% of the Coe family in the 2010 census identified as White, while the rest of the respondents identified as Black, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Panorama of  Statue of Liberty against Manhattan cityscape background in New York City, NY, USA
Many members of the Coe family moved to the United States, even though their family name originated in England.

©Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock.com

Spelling Variations of the Coe Family Name

The Coe family name has a long history dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period of English history. However, due to the lack of standardization in spelling during ancient and medieval times, there are many variations of the name. Names were often spelled out phonetically, leading to a variety of spellings. Here are some examples of common variations of the Coe family name.

  • Coes
  • Cowe
  • Kow
  • Cawe
  • Kowe
  • Coo
  • Ku
  • Koe
  • Koo
  • Coey

When researching your family history, consider variations of the family name, especially if you have hit a dead end in your search. You may finally discover the missing piece of your family history puzzle.

Interesting Facts About the Coe Family Name

During our research, we discovered some interesting facts about this last name. This includes famous relatives and census data dating back to the 1800s.

Notable Historical Figures Connected to the Coe Family Name

  • If your last name is Coe, you may have a paternal connection to King Louis XVI. As the last Bourbon king of France, he was executed with his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, during the French Revolution. This means you may also be related to Marie Antoinette.
  • You may also be related to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose genealogy is traced back to Bavaria.
  • People named Coe may also be related to the renowned 16th-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
  • One final notable historical figure in the Coe family is Harry Coe. He was a crew member on the RMS Titanic and tragically died during the ship's sinking in 1912.
Crop narrow shot image portrait of smiling three family generation of men in row isolated on white studio background. Old grandfather forefront with young son and little grandson. Offspring.
The Coe family has connections to several famous historical figures, including Nicholas Copernicus and Marie Antoinette.

©BAZA Production/Shutterstock.com

Census Data and Interesting Facts About the Coe Family Name

  • According to 23andme, the most common ancestry breakdown for people named Coe is British and Irish. The second most common breakdown is French and German.
  • Research data suggests that individuals with the Coe surname may have a slightly higher propensity for migraines.
  • Men with the last name Coe most commonly reported farming as their occupation in the 1940 United States Census. Furthermore, for women, teaching was the most common occupation.
  • Between 1943 and 2004, the life expectancy for Coe in the United States rose from 37 to 76 years old.
  • People with the last name Coe in the United States earn an average of $43,952 per year. This is 1.86% more than the national average.
  • Individuals with the last name Coe in the United States register to vote for the Republican Party at a rate 14.79% above the national average, with 61.56% of them being registered as Republicans.
  • According to data, 63% of the Coe family residing in Ireland follows the Anglican faith.
  • Coe is a gender-neutral first name that originates from Gaelic and means “people of victory.” It can also mean “girl” or “wench,” which is perhaps why it is more common as a girl's name.

Famous People With the Coe Family Name

Many successful people share the Coe family name. Here are some recognizable names.

  • Alexander Paul Coe – Better known as Sasha, he is a Welsh DJ and music producer who released three studio albums. He has also worked with a number of other electronic acts, including John Digweed and the Chemical Brothers.
  • Barry Coe – An American actor easily recognizable to viewers because he starred in many television shows between 1958 and 1976.
  • David Allan Coe – American country music songwriter and musician who was equally famous for his rowdy behavior. Coe also wrote songs for other musicians, including Tanya Tucker and Johnny Paycheck.
  • Frank Coe – Notorious cowboy and outlaw of the Old West who served as a member of the Lincoln County Regulators.
  • Jonathan Coe – An English novelist, critic, and playwright who has written six novels, including What a Carve Up and The House of Sleep.
  • Rodney Coe – This American athlete is a defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. He also played college football at Akron.
  • Sebastian Coe – A former British track and field athlete who won four Olympic medals in the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games. Later, he joined the Conservative Party and became a member of Parliament.
  • William R. Coe – A distinguished academic, archaeologist, and Mayanist scholar who is widely recognized for his exceptional fieldwork on pre-Columbian Maya civilization sites.
puzzle with the national flag of great britain and ireland on a world map background
The majority of people with the family name Coe have British and Irish ancestry.


In Summary

The Coe family has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the Anglo-Saxon period in English history. Over time, family members have migrated to different parts of the world. Notable ancestors include many early American settlers, a crew member who perished on the Titanic, and possibly Queen Marie Antoinette of France.

Each person with the Coe family name has a unique story to tell, whether they were seamen, royalty, or simply good neighbors. The Coe family is intertwined with the past in various ways, from larger historical events to everyday lives. If you are a member of this family or are researching this last name, happy researching!

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