Surname Saturday – Cottam

I have only one person with the surname Cottam in my family tree – Jane Cottam is my 3x great grandmother.

Jane was born about 1806 in Over Darwen, Lancashire.  So far I haven’t found a record of her birth and have no information about her parents.

According to surnamedb Cottam is of English locational origin.  It is said to date from Anglo-Saxon times and comes from one of a number of similarly named settlements throughout England.

There is Coton in Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire; Cotton in Cheshire, Shropshire and Northamptonshire; Coatham in Durham and the North Riding of Yorkshire; Cotham in Nottinghamshire; and Cottam in Nottinghamshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

All of these names stem from the Old English aet cotum – which means at the cottages.  So,then, people who lived at or near cottages.

There are many spelling variations of the name including – Cotton, Coton, Cotten, Coten, Cottan, Cottain, Cottone and Cottane.  A bit of a nightmare for a One Name Study perhaps.

Early recordings of the name are believed to be Ralph de Cottum in 1212 in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire; on January 16th 1701 Sarah, daughter of William Cottham, was christened in Great Mitton, Yorkshire; William Cottam married Mary Ellesker on the 29th November 1655 at Brantingham, Yorkshire.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Randulf de Cotton, which was dated 1185 in The Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire.

It is not a very common name these days.  According to sources on the Internet there are currently only 2574 people in the UK with the name Cottam.  That is an increase of only 752 since the 1881 census when there were 1822 people named Cottam.

Despite it being not very common there has been some noteworthy people bearing the name Cottam over the years.

• Major-General Nicholas Cottam CB, OBE (b. 1951) – British Army Officer

• Robert “Bob” Michael Henry Cottam (b. 1944) – former English cricketer

• Harold Thomas Cottam (1891-1984) – English wireless operator on the RMS Carpathia who heard the SOS from the sinking RMS Titanic

• Francis Cottam (1900-1987) – English cricketer


    1. Thanks for looking at my blog Janine and for commenting. I haven’t done much research on the Cottam name yet – it is on my list of things to do.


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