It turns out that the surname "Cody" is shared with English, Irish, French and Portugese families, variously spelled as "Coady", "Coty" and "Cote." The Cody surname is also found in the Canadian Maritimes, so it's reasonable that there be Codys with very different family histories.

Phonetically, "C" resembles "G", "o" could be written "au", "d" can sound like "t", and the "ee" sound can be written as "y", "ie", "es" or "et." Likewise, "fil-EEP" could become "FIL-lip" and "Mart(e)" becomes "MAR-tha" depending on the ears that hear it or the hand that writes it. So while some latitude must be granted just for the spelling of unfamiliar names, perhaps these were protective anglicizations.

Various Origins of the Surname CODY
       While the surname Cody is not as common as many other surnames, for example, Smith, Jones, Martin, Johnson, yet it is sufficiently common to indicate that its use must have had different origins in time and place. Certainly in the light of the facts (above presented) concerning the origin of our family’s use of this surname we know that it was neither borrowed nor inherited by our immigrant ancestor, Philip Legody, but came to be used

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by him as result of circumstances peculiar to his life as a resident of Beverly, 1698-1720(1). Accordingly between our genealogical family and any other bearing the surname Cody, there can be no assumption of genealogical relationship on the basis of the fact that both bear the surname Cody.

       In the course of our genealogical inquiry to discover descendants of our immigrant ancestor Philip, we learned there are many Americans bearing the surname Cody, who by the above and other tests, are not genealogically related to our Cody family. Some of these were themselves immigrants, others had but a few generations(2) of American ancestry, and there were many whose American ancestry began prior to the American Revolution. A large number of the latter we found residing in the southern states (3). These southern Codys for the most part claimed a common immigrant ancestor whose given name was James and who was known to have inherited the surname Cody from Irish ancestry who had borne it for several generations. The date of his coming from Ireland was given as about 1743, and that upon his arriva1 he settled in the south, at first in Virginia and later in Georgia. The genealogist of this Cody family(4) reported that the origin of their surname had been traced to a member of the L’ercedekne Sept in Ireland, whose given name was Odo, and whose son took MacOdo as a surname, and that his descendants in time, probably by the early part of the seventeenth century shortened this to Codo which soon became Cody. Here then we have an origin of the use of Cody as a surname that is as unique as that of our family’s use of it.

       This southern Cody family claims a coat-of-arms(5), which of course no one can claim who is not a descendant of the Odo branch of the L’ercedekne family.
       That not all Irish who bear the surname Cody can claim this Odo to be the origin of their use of the name is evidenced not only by the fact that the name Cody is quite common in Ireland, but more especially by the fact that the name is found in records of a date considerably earlier than the seventeenth century when, as above noted, it was first found in records of the L’ercedekne family. And not only in earlier Irish records is the name found, but also in English records of even an earlier date(6).

       For the origin of these early uses of the name and to account for its quite common use in Ireland and in some sections of England, various assumptions have been made by students of surnames. Of these assumptions there seems the fairly reasonable one that since the essential syllable Cod of this surname is that of many other surnames, it may at one time have served to describe the marked appearance or behavior of certain individuals whose descendants claiming it for themselves thereupon made use of it in combination with some other word when circumstances came to demand that, they have a surname as well as a given name. And some of these may easily have taken the simple.form Cod-y. Also there seems the reasonable chance, as some writers on surnames suggest, that so short a name as may have been an abbreviation for a given name difficult to pronounce by children, and that those thus nick-named came in time to assume this for a surname which then became that of their descendants. In the light of these various assumptions of possible origin of this surname, there reasonably may be many genealogically un-related families which have the surname Cody.

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  1. The year 1720, at which Philip leased land at Hopkinton, in the papers for which his surname was for the first time reported Cody.
  2. Of these some held so high a cultural place that it was a disappointment to find they were not of our genealogical family. The most notable of these were Mr. Frank Cody, for years head of Detroit public schools, and Rev. Hiram Alfred Cody, Canadian author and clergyman of St. John, New Brunswick.
  3. A few of the Codys having an early American ancestry and not genealogically related to our family reside in the north. These reported an Irish ancestry, but were vague about their immigrant ancestor, except that he came from Ireland before the American Revolution. One family thought their immigrant ancestor was Michael.
  4. When we first learned of this southern Cody family and that they had an American ancestry which began prior to the American Revolution we anticipated finding they were genealogically related to our family. But when by their report we learned that they were of Irish ancestry and that their immigrant ancestor had probably come direct from Ireland bearing the surname Cody, while our immigrant ancestor, as we had in the meantime definitely learned, was of French ancestry and had come more or less directly from France where he did not bear the surname Cody, we plainly had evidence that between the descendants of Philip Legody 1698 (Beverly, Mass.) and those of James Cody, 1740-50 (Georgia) there was no genealogical relationship. A genealogical brochure in the meantime had been written by genealogists of the southern Cody family, which assumed that the Cody family of Massachusetts and that of Ohio were descendants of a brother of their James, and that this brother's given name was Philip. While this can no longer be claimed it may well be that there are northern Codys who are descendants of a brother of James who settled in Georgia about 1745. After our pleasant correspondence with the genealogist of this southern Cody family we were disappointed that our Cody family and his were not genealogically related.
  5. Some of the descendants of our Philip of Beverly (1698) hearing of this Cody coat-of-arms thought for a time they were entitled to its use, since they had not then learned that their immigrant ancestor was of French ancestry and had come from France where he did not bear the surname Cody.
           We may question here a statement in a publication of several years ago called A New Cyclopedia of American Biography (Volume 23, Page 131) to the effect that two Cody brothers, John and Isaac, came from Ireland to Union, Conn., about 1720, and the claim is there made that the descendants of these two brothers are entitled to use the Cody coat-of-arms of the Irish ancestry which is there copied. By our investigation of this statement it seems highly probable that these Cody brothers John and Isaac were sons of our immigrant Philip, since two of his sons with given names John and Isaac went to Union, Conn., for a time at about that date, though they later settled at Hopkinton as did Philip and others of the family. If this was the case their descendants are of course not entitled to the coat-of-arms there given. There is in our Cody family no basis on a claim (known to us) to a coat-of-arms or any other like

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    distinction; but a beloved member of our family the late Charles Paxton Cody designed for us a family insignia (family seal) by which he sought to express to us something of the truly noble character of our Huguenot ancestor, Philip Legody (see design and explanation of family seal first page of book), as this may be judged not only by our meagre knowledge of him, but by the generally acknowledged fine qualities and character of the French Huguenot refugees as indicated in the statement that “they were able to establish themselves among strange peoples, overcoming their prejudices and obtaining their esteem, is prime evidence of their nobility; but of greater evidence is the fact that they united with their hosts and formed with them one nation wherein every man and woman and child who refuses the evil and chooses the good is noble in God’s sight.” The quotation is from a paper “Huguenot Settlement of America” by William Prall.
  1. In a thirteenth century document the surname Cody appears; for this see Volume 34, Page 154 of The Genealogist which gives a Roger Cody, Breshan, Oxen, 1411.
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The International Cody Family Association