Hancock Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This is popular American and English last name has three origin theories. First, one theory is that this is a baptismal/patronymic surname meaning “the son of John”, from the name the personal (first) name Han, Hane, or Hans, a nickname for the biblical name John, ultimately from a shortened version of the from the German/Flemish/Dutch masculine named Johannes or Johan, with the suffix -cock applies, with the letter d being intrusive. The biblical name John derives from the Hebrew name Yochanan, meaning “God’s gift. It should also me noted the termination cock deriving from an Old English word cocca, a nickname for a young man or lad.
A second theory is proffered in the book The Norman People, published in 1824, asserts this name was originally De Sprenchaux and was found in Burgundy, France. A man named Agilric de Sprenchaux was Lord of Longor and Wesley, Salop who lived during the reign of King Stephen of England (1135-1154 AD) and Duke of Normandy (1135-1144 AD). He had a son named Wlliam who was a bailiff at Hencot for the Abbey of Lillesshall. William in turn had a son named Roger FitzWilliam, of Encot, who with Thomas Hancoc or Hencot, went to lands held by Sir Robert Springhouse, where the name gradually changed to Hancock.
A third theory is that the name is Dutch, deriving from the Middle Dutch word hanecoc, meaning winkle or periwinkle, which is a type of shellfish), and was likely a metonymic occupational name for a person who gathered and/or sold shellfish.
Some spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Hancocke, Hanncock, Hanckock, Hoancock, Haincock, Handcock, Hancocks, Hancox, and Handcox.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Hancock ranks 625th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following 15 states: Wyoming, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah, South Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. The surname Hancock frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (364th), Scotland (991st), Wales (230th), Ireland (2,634th) and Northern Ireland (1,576th).
Hancock Manor, Boston, MA
In England, it ranks highest in county Cornwall. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in Banffshire. In Wales, it ranks highest in Pembrokeshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Waterford. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Londonderry. The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (1,136th), New Zealand (389th), Australia (284th), and South Africa (2,109th). Henry Brougham Guppy’s 1890 book Homes of Family Names in Great Britain states the following in regard to this last name: “The Hancocks are now confined to the western half of England, south of the Mersey, and characterise most of the counties from the Land's End in Cornwall to the Peak in Derbyshire. They seem to attain a greater frequency in the south - west of England and in Derbyshire than in other parts of their area. On referring to the Hundred Rolls we find that six centuries ago, namely, in the 13th century, Hancock was represented in Shropshire in the forms of Hancoc and De Hancoc. Robert Hancock was lord mayor of York in 1488 (Drake's "Eboracum"). Coming to Cheshire, we learn from Earwaker that a Richard Hancok resided in East”.
Early Bearers of the Surname
One of the earliest bearers of this surname was Thomas Hancoc, who was documented in the Hundred Rolls of Shropshire in 1274 AD. John Hanicokes in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield in Yorkshire in 1316 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists one Hanecock Birunc in county York, England. The Poll Tax of 1379 AD lists four bearers: Warynus Hancok, Agnes Hankok, Robert Hanok, and Willelmus Hancock. Two early marriages involving this surname were Katherine Hancoxe in London in 1619 and George Handcock to Eleanor Jackson at St. George’s Hanover Square.
Hancock Family Tree & Hancock Genealogy
The following is a discussion of two different noble, royal, landed, or aristocratic families bearing this last name.
Hancocks of Wolverley
The lineage or ancestry of this branch of the Hancock family tree traces back to William Hancocks, Esquire of Wolverly, who was an ironmaster by trade, born in 1761, the son of William, grandson of Samuel, and the great grandson of Samuel (born in 1694). He married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Samuel Talbot of Wolverley, England, and had three issue with her as follows: John (see below), Samuel (Esquire of Woodfield House, married Teresa Pope of London, had six children named Teresa, Emily, Caroline Louisa, Ellen, Victoria, and Harriett), and William (of Blakeshall Hall, Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant, married Hannah White of Astley in 1832). The eldest son, John Hancocks, was an Esquire of Wolverley Court and Manor, who in 1827, married Elizabeth, daughter of John White of Astley and Elizabeth Chellingworth of Park Attwood, and fathered the following children with her: Alfred John (his heir, see below), William Frederick (Captain of the 85th King’s Light Infantry, who married Edith Clara, daughter of John Rawlins of Llewesog Hall and Sarah MacDonnel, had issue named John, Harry Frederick, Edith Mabel, and Alice Fanny Maritza), Arthur Annesley (of Fairfield Marstow, married Gertrude Elizabeth, daughter of Reverend John William Donaldn and Eleanor Mortlock, had three daughters named Annesley John, Eleanor Gertrude, and Mildred Augusta), Augustus Talbot (Captain of the Worcestershire Militia), Louis Albert, Laura Elizabeth (married William Hutcheson Collins of Cubberley House, county Hereford), Isabella (married Nathaniel Kyrle Collins of Wiltondale), and Jane Augusta. Her died in 1849. Alfred John Hancocks, his son and heir, was an Esquire of Wolverley Manor House, county Worcester, England (modern day United Kingdom, once called Great Britain) and Captain of the 1st Worcestershire Rifle Volunteers, who in 1851, married his cousin, Caroline Louisa, and had eight children with her as follows: Alfred Ernest Collingwood, William, Edgar Talbot, Caroline Louisa, Constance Ellen, Georgina Isabel, Artethusa Grace, and Adeline Ariadne. The Hancocks Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Hancocks Family Crest or Shield by those somewhat unfamiliar with heraldry, genealogy, and history) is blazoned in the medieval art of heraldry as follows: Per chevron azure and gules in chief a garb between two cocks respecting each other, in base a lion rampant or. Crest: On a mount vert a cock gules holding with its dexter claw an ear of wheat or. Motto: Redeem time. This branch of the Hancocks family tree was seated (owned land, manors, titles/positions) at Wolverley Court, England and Wolverley Manor, county Worcester, England.
Handcock of Cole Hill House
The Handcock genealogy of this line traces back to Robert Handcock, who married Jane Blackburne, daughter and co-heiress of Richard Blackburne of Rockville House, county Roscommon, Ireland and Jane Philips of Drumcondra Castle near Dublin, and had three issue with her: Sarah (married William Coddington of Drogheda), Jane (married Nathaniel Low of Low Ville, Galway, Ireland), and William. His only son and heir, William Handcock, was an Esquire, Member of Parliament for Athlone, and Commissioner of the Honorable Barrack Board). In 1767, he married Susannah, daughter of William Lloyd, of Rockville and Sarah Blackburne, and had a son with her named Robert. This son, Reverend Robert, was of Dublin and in 1794, he married Jane, daughter and heiress of Robert Bryanton of Ballymulvey of Longford and Dorothy Crowe, and had four children with her as follows: William (see below), Robert (Reverend, married Elizabeth Macklin and later Frances Jane Langley), Dorothea (married William Phipps, Major 27th Regiment of Abbey Ville), and Susannah (married Samuel Galbraith of Clanabogan, county Tyrone and Crowdrum, county Longford). He died in 1848 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Reverend William Handock, of Cole Hill, Rector of Kilnagross. William married Sarah, daughter of William Coddington and Frances Ball, and had two sons with her as follows: William Bryanton (born 1822) and Robert Ball. Robert Ball Handcock was an Esquire of Cole Hill House, county Longford, who was born in 1823. He married Frances, daughter of Abraham Symes of New Ross, and had one son with her named William Frederick Bryanton who was born in 1874. The Handcock Coat of Arms has the following heraldic blazon: Ermine, on a chief sable a dexter hand between two cocks argent armed crested and jelloped gules. Crest: A demi-lion rampant azure holding between the paws a fusil argent charged with a cock gules. Motto: Vigilate et orate. This family was seated at Cole Hill House, Mullinagar, Ireland.
William Handcock was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1761. He was the son of Reverend Richard Handcock and Sarah Toler. He was a Member of Parliament and was created Baron Castlemaine of Moydrum in the Peerage of Ireland in 1812 and later Viscount Castlemain in 1822. He died in 1839 and the title was passed to his brother Richard. This Richard Handcock was the 2nd Baron Castlemain. He was born in 1767 and was a politician and a Member of the Irish House of Commons for Athlone. He married Anne, daughter of Arthur French, and had seven sons and two daughters with her. He died in 1840 and was succeeded Richard. The son Richard was the3rd Baron Castlemain who was a Tory politician who was educated at Trinity College and was a member of Parliament for Athlone in 1826. He married Margaret, daughter of Michael Harris, and had two daughters and two sons with her. He passed away in 1869. He was succeeded by his eldest son Richard. This son Richard was as born in 1826 and was the 4th Baron. He was a Lieutenant in the British Army and Captain of the 41st Welsh Regiment Foot. He was also elected a representative peer to the House of Lords. He married Honorable Louisa Matilda Harris, daughter of William, and had five daughters and three sons with her. He died in 1892 and was succeeded by his son Albert. Albert Edward Handcock was the 5th Baron Castlemain. He was a major landowner and had 12,000 acres. He was born at East Hill, Athlone, Ireland. He was a Lieutenant of the 4th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He died without a heir in 1937. He was succeeded by his younger brother Robert. Robert Arthur Handcock was the 6th Baron Castlemain. He lived from 1864 to 1954. The 7th Baron was John Michael Schomberg Staveley Handcock was the 7th Baron. He lived from 1904 to 1973. The 8th Baron Castlemain was Roland Thomas John Handcock who was born in 1943. His son, Ronan Michael Handcock, who was born in 1898, is their heir apparent.
Richard Handcock, 4th Baron Castlemaine (1826-1892)
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Albert Handcock, 5th Baron Castlemaine (1863-1937)
Moydrum Castle, seat of Handcock family
Other Hancock Pedigree & Family Trees
Thomas Hancoc of Shropshire, England was born around 1250 AD. He had a son named Willelmus. Willelmus Hancoke of Warwickshire was born around 1260 AD. He had a son named William. William was born around 1300 AD. He married and had a son named John. John Hanok was born in England around 1330 AD. He was the Mayor of Lostwithiel. He married and had a son named Willelmus. Willelmus Hancok was born around 1370. He had a son named John. John was born in England in 1400. He married and had a son named Benjamin. Sir Benjamin Hancock was born in England in 1420. He married a woman named Shirley and had a son with her named Anthony (aka Tony). Sir Anthony Hancock was born in London, Middlesex, England around 1460. He married Lady Joan Eaglesfield) and had two issue with her: Elizabeth (Ward) and Richard. His son Richard Hancock was born in Derbyshire, England in 1480. He had a son named John. John was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire in 1506 AD. He had two sons: Thomas Sr. and Richard Sr. His son Thomas Hancock Sr. was born in London, England in 1525. He had a son also named Thomas. This Thomas II was born in London, Middlesex in 1550. In 1575, he married Agnes Nickolls and had two children with her: Johannes and William Sr. William Hancock Sr. was born in Devonshire around 1580. He went to Jamestown, Virginia, in early colonial America, where married Susan Poynter in 1604. He was killed at the massacre at Thorpe House by Native Americans in 1622. He was the father of three sons: Augustine, Symond, and William Jr. His son Symond or Simon Hancock was born in Devon, England in 1612 and went to Virginia with his father. He married Sarah Gilbert and had children with her including William Sr., Simon, and Robert. The details of his three children are as follows:
1) William Sr. was born in Prince William, Virginia around 1645. He married Elizabeth Cockcroft and had the following children with her: Simon, William Jr, Samuel, John, Mary, Frances, Edward, and George
2) Simon was born in born in Virginia around 1649. He married Ashall and had the following children with her: Simon and George
3) Robert was born in Lower Norfolk, VA around 1650. He married Johana Ligon and had the following children with her: Elizabeth, Sarah, Johanna, Mary, Phoebe, Bailey, William, and Robert.
The last person mentioned, Robert Hancock, was born in Virginia around 1679. He married Margaret and had the following children with her: Robert, Edward, Dinah (Patterson), William, George Hancock, Thomas, and Joshua.
Another line of this family was that of William Hancock, who was born in 1610, presumably in Ireland. He married a woman named Margaret and had three sons with her: Jacob, John, and William. His son Jacob Hancock was born in Lisburn, Ireland in 1657 AD. He married Isabella Calvert and was the father of four children with her as follows: John, Joseph, Jacob, and Thomas. His son John was born in Lisburn, Ireland around 1695. He married twice: Mary Forbes and Sarah Bradshaw. He had the following issue: Ann (Nevill), John, Thomas, Jacob, Mary (Hill), Sarah (Middleton), and Margaret. His son Jacob Hancock was born in Lisburne, Ireland in 1749. He married Elizabeth Phelps and had the following children with her: Sarah (Greer), Mary (Hogg), Celia, Elizabeth, John, Thomas, Thomas, Hannah, Isabella (Nicolson), Jacob Bradshaw, and Anna. His son Jacob Bradshaw Hancock was born in Lisburn, Ireland in 1788. He married Mary Hubbard in Ohio, United States in about 1830. He was the father of the following children: Thomas, Anna (Hubbard), Sarah, Isabelle (Rinard), and Mary Elizabeth (Sheets). His son Thomas was born in Ohio in 1832. He married Henrietta Estelle Frances Wilson and had the following issue with her: Mary A. Rebecca (Mccoy) and Winfield Scott. His son Winfield Scott Hancock was born in Marietta, Ohio in 1876. He married Ethelyn Simpson and had three issue with her: Frances (Stitt), Jane Penrose (Wilson), and Thomas John. His son Dr. Thomas John Hancock was born in Marietta, Ohio in 1918. He married Joan Elizabeth Burns. He served in the medical corps of the US Army in Europe in World War II. He passed away in Ohio in 2014.
Early American and New World Settlers
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions four bearers of this last name:
1) Anthony Hancock of Wrentham, was a servant of William Sumner of Dorchester, and he married Sarah and later Ruth, and likely had the following children with her: Henry, Anthony (1685), Mary (1701), William (1703), Hannah (1706), and Silence (1709).
2) John Hancock of New Haven, Connecticut, a proprietor in 1685, died in 1712. He did not have children. He may have owned 500 acres of land.
3) Nathaniel Hancock of Cambridge, with wife Joan, had issue named Mary (1634), Elizabeth (1645), and Lydia (1646). He died in 1652. John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence, descended from him.
4) Thomas Hancock of Hadley, 1678, who later moved.
Thomas Hancock, age 15, came to Virginia aboard the Globe of London in August 1635. John Hancock, age 17, came to Virginia aboard the Constance in October 1635. Alexander Hancock, age 15, came to the New World (to Antigua? in October of 1679. John Hancock and his wife were registered in the parish of St. Michael’s, Barbados in 1680 and had one servant.
Other settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include Nicholas Hancock (Jamestown, Virginia in 1607), John Hancock (Virginia 1635), Andrew Hancock (Virginia 1649), Jacob Hancock (Virginia 1719), and Thomas Hancock (Maryland 1775). In Canada, around 1749-1750, several bearers of this surname came to the province of Nova Scotia, including John, Samuel, Thomas, Henry, and James Hancock. In Australia, in 1823, Robert Hancock, a convict from Cambridge, England, came to Van Diemen’s Land (present day Tasmania) aboard the Albion. Around 1830, Thomas Hancock, a weaver by trade came to New South Wales. In 1838, the following bearers came aboard a ship named Eden and landed in the city of Adelaide: John, Sarah, an Emma Hancock. In New Zealand, Thomas Hancock came to the city of Auckland aboard the Bolivia, in 1842, and John Hancock came to the same city aboard the Baltasara in 1854.
Gov. John Hancock
Early Americans Bearing the Hancock Family Crest
Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927) contains four entries for this surname:
1) Gules a dexter hand argent couped and on a chief argent three cocks gules. Motto: Obsta principiis On Lowestoft Punch Bowl. Bostonian Soc.
2) [Gules] a dexter hand couped erect argent, on a chief or three cocks [gules] Crest: a demi-griffin. Engraved on 6 dishes, given in 1764 by Hon. Thomas Hancock. Brattle Street Church, Boston. Old Sil. Am. Ch., p. 69.
3) [Gules] a dexter hand couped erect argent, on a chief [of the second] three cocks [of the first]. Impaling: A chevron sable bet 3 hunting horns of the second. On a chief three lioncelles ramp (Henchman). Crest: a demi-griffin. Engraved on standing cups given in 1773 by Mrs. Lydia, wife of Thomas Hancock and daughter of Daniel Henchman of Boston. Also on a cup owned 1914 by Fredrick G. May. First Church, Boston. Old Sil. Am. Ch., p. 26. Also engraved on 2 beakers from Thomas Hancock, 1764, owned by First Church or Society, Lexington, Mass. Jones, Old Sil., p. 246.
4) Gules a hand couped and erect argent, on a chief of the last 3 cocks of the first. Crest: a cock gules holding a dexter hand couped at the wrist argent. Arms on the seal of Gov. John Hancock. On a silver coffee pot given by John Hancock to Mrs. Hancock, who gave it to her grandniece, Mrs. Wm. Greenough, whose son W. W. G. gave it to C. P. Greenough. Vermont Amer. Heral., pp. 19, 20, 167.
Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook (1907) contains two entries for this last name:
1) Nathaniel Hancock of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gules, a hand couped and erect argent, on a chief of the last, three cocks of the first. Crest: A cock gules holding a dexter hand couped at the wrist argent.
2) Henry James Hancock, Esquire, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gules, a plate, on a chief argent of the first. Crest: A cock’s head erminois combed, wattled, beaked, and ducally gorged gules.
Crozier’s General Armory (1904) contains one entry for this last name: William Hancock, Proprietor, of Cambridge, MA., 1634. Arms: Gules, a plate, on a chief of the first. Crest: A cock’s head erminois combed and wattled and ducally gorged gules.
I have identified three Hancock family mottoes:
1) Redeem time (Redeem the time)*
2) Vigilate et orate (Watch and Pray)
3) Obsta principiis (Resist the beginnings and consider the end) (Nip it in the bud)
*This motto derives from the Holy Bible: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5, verse 15
We have 6 coats of arms for the Hancock surname depicted here. These 6 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Hancock Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Hancock Family Crest)
1) Dancer Hancock of London, escheator for Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, and also clerk of the Records in the Tower of London, granted 10 April 1635, by Sir R. St. George
2) Edward Hancock of Combe Martin, Devon, quarterly, 1588, by Cooke.
3) John Hancock of Blaxeley, Northantshire, gentleman, son of Thomas of Donnington, Salop, confirmed 2 November 1631 by St. George.
4) Richard Hancock of Cornhill, Lancaster, son of William, 11 November 1614, by R. St. George
5) William Hancock of Comb Martin, Devon, gentleman, 8 December 1564, by Hervey
There are hundreds of notable people with the Hancock surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) John Hancock (1737-1793) who was an American merchant, revolutionary, patriot, member of the Second Continental Congress, signer of the Declaration of Independence (plus sizes signature), and the 1st and 3rd Governor of Massachusetts, who was born Braintree, MA, 2) Henry Hancock (1822-1883) who was a Harvard educated lawyer who was a surveyor and land over in early California, who also was a veteran of the Mexican-American War, born in Bath New Hampshire, 3) Clarence Eugene Hancock (1885-a congressman in the US House of Representatives from New York from 1945-1947 who was born in Syracuse New York, educated at Wesleyan University and New York Law School, 4) Herbert Jeffrey “Herbie” Hancock (1940) who was an American composer, pianist, and bandleader born in Chicago, Illinois who is well known in jazz music and known for compositions such as Cantaloupe Island and Watermelon Man, 5) Melton D. Hancock (1929-2001) who was a US House of Representatives member for Missouri from 1989-1997, having served in the US Air Force, born in Cape Fair, MO, 6) Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886) who was a career Army officer who served in both the Mexican-America War and Civil War, rising the rank of Major General, and later becoming the Democratic nominee for President in 1880, born in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania, 7) Francis Escott “Frank” Hancock (1859-1943) who was a Welsh rugby player born in Wiveliscombe, England who plated in the late nineteenth century for Cardiff RFC and the Wales Nation Team, 8) Sir Patrick Hancock (1914-1980) who was a British diplomat who served as an ambassador to Israel, Italy, and Norway, 9) Walter Hancock (1799-1852) who was an English inventor born in Marlborough, England, known for creating the rubber industry in Britain and for his steam-powered vehicles, and 10) Cornelia Hancock (1840-1927) who was a celebrated nurse and volunteer who treated the Union Army during the American Civil War, born in Hancock’s Bridge, New Jersey.