The surname Wilcox is of frequent and widely disseminated occurrence in the earliest English records ; apparently reaching back to much more remote periods. It was relatively a more frequent as well as a more considerable name in England three or four centuries ago than it is at present. For example, in the earliest continuous catalogue of Oxford University, extending from 1508 to 1523, this name in various forms of spelling is found no less than eight times among those receiving degrees, while the present yearly catalogue with its greatly increased list would average one or two. The same is true in respect to its earlier frequency in the list of county families. The earliest recorded traces of the name are found in Cornwall and Wales. In Downs Visitation of Wales (written in Welsh), the family of Wilkoks is named among the County families, and an English note to the text says of a certain William Wilkoks mentioned that "he was certainly deceased before 1305." Another William Wilkoks is named as executor of the Will of Sir John Golafree of date 1393. Of later date the name, in the more modern spelling of Willcocks, is found in many old records in various parts of England, and occasionally appears somewhat prominently, as in that of the Puritan author Thomas Wilcocks, some of whose books reached many editions, and still later in that of Joseph Wilcocks, Bishop of Rochester, who, while Dean of Westminster, "restored the West Front" of that historical edifice.
According to Lower, in his "Origin of English Surnames," the name Wilcox is derived from William, while Camden places it among names derived from birds. Neither of these authorities states how the derivation is made. It is also sometimes assumed that it is of Saxon or possibly of Celtic origin, but in any case is of very early date. It is equally certain that in the earliest emigration to America the name was represented by families from different parts of England in no wise connected with each other. Savage in his Genealogical Dictionary gives the names of no less than six (6) different Wilcox emigrants nearly contemporary in date of emigration, between whom, so far as is known, there was no kinship or connection.
- Fifty Puritan Ancestors 1628 - 1660 Genealogical Notes - 1650 - 1900 Elizabeth Todd Nash. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1902 [Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]