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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

The study has reconstructed the genealogy of all COADs and COODEs of English/Cornish descent with the assistance of many family researchers. It is essentially complete up to about the year 1910, and the study is expounded in the book 

The name (originally CODE) is one of the twenty oldest surnames in Cornwall, going back to Richard Code, who was the Mayor of Liskeard during the period of the Black Death in the mid 1300s. From the early 1500s about a dozen different lines appeared, which with the aid of Y-DNA has been reduced to three unrelated male lines, all of whom lived a few miles apart from each other in 1520.
  1. The Coodes of Breage and St Austell, the Coads of North Hill/Liskeard and the Coads of Stithians/Truro (CORNISH COADS, descended from a Lansallos family)
  2. The Coads of St Stephen in Brannel and of Ermington Devon (DEVON COADS, quite likely descended from soldier gentry, Richard Coad of Gidleigh)
  3. The Coads of Looe and the Coades of Crowan, probably a distaff line from Kelliowe/Callaway near Liskeard.

The book, which is 700 pages long, tells the story of the ancient surname of Code and how a network of descendants unravelled the descent of unrelated Coads and their Coode cousins, who have lived as neighbours wherever the Cornish congregated. It expounds the detailed history and genealogy of these families at home and abroad, plus a number of stray and Irish lines. It has three parts

  1. The first four Chapters are a general summary of the surname, its early history and the places in which it flourished
  2. Chapters 5-15 give histories of the different families
  3. Part 3 gives the story of a number of famous people bearing the surname, and important events in which they were involved - the sinking of the Bismarck, the Monmouth Rebellion, artificial stone statues, the Battle of Algiers, revolt in Maryland, rotten borough corruption, temperance agitation, eccentric millionaires, the Victorian Poor laws, Peak Frean biscuits, boll weevil control, bell ringing, theatre criticism, pregnant dairymaids, suicidal poets, African shellfish, corrupt and treacherous nobles, lavish goldfields funerals, vagrant ex-publicans, escaped lunatics, and the doping of racehorses  

 While the study is essentially completed, every so often new developments arise, which have led to half a dozen updated editions of the book. The last (hardcover) was in 2015.

Variant names

Coade, Code, Coode, Cood

Name origin

All three families lived within a few miles of Liskeard Corwall in the 1520s. The variant COAD was unknown before 1600; prior to that it was CODE or COODE.

Historical occurrences of the name

* Richard Code, of royal descent, richest man in the Hundred of East and Royal Tax Collector, 1500 Cornwall

* Eleanor Coade, Britain's most successful artist/businesswoman, inventor of Coade stone.

* Four of her uncles, mayors of Lyme Regis, Dorset in the 1700s

* John Coad, exiled to Barbados for his part in the Monmouth Rebellion 1685

* Robert Coad of Truro, convict transported for inciting a friend to steal a bag of coal, many descendants in Australia

* Robert Coad of Liskeard, architect, remodelled Lanhydrock House

* Sapper John Coade of Korumburra, twice decorated in the Great War

* Basil Aubrey Coad, commander of the Commonwealth forces in the Korean War.

* Dorothy Coade Hewett, Australian poet and playwright of distinction

* Rev Col John Coode, controversial governor of Maryland 1690

* Four Coodes, bankers and attorneys of St Austell, who held the title of Clerk of the Peace, Treasurer or (Under) Sheriff of Cornwall in the 1800s and who effectively executed the local government of Cornwall during the 19th century,.

* Sir John Coode, most famous marine engineer of his era

* Six other Coodes holding knighthoods or senior naval or military rank.

Name frequency

There were about 750 Coads etc in the 1841 English Census, with 525 in Cornwall (the maximum number to occur there) and about 100 in Devon. There would have been not many more than 50 abroad at that time. By 1900 Worldwide there were about 1400 Coads and Coodes

Distribution of the name

In 1522,the 13 adult male Cornish CODEs all lived within a few miles of Liskeard, in four locations. There were also Codes in Clyst St George Devon, and possibly around Ugborough. By 1641 they had spread through most of central Cornwall as COAD, and variants of the name were found in several Devon towns. In 1900, following the Cornish diaspora, there were 350 West Country Coads in Cornwall, 100 in Devon, 96 in the North Country, 232 in the USA, 61 in Canada, about 340 in Australia and 67 in New Zealand


The onename study consists of six separate draft trees on worldconnnect.rootsweb. The main research tool is a spreadsheet containing all incidences of Coad etc births/baptisms and marriages, sorted by forename. There is also a Word file detailing the families by parish (and in Australia, by State); along with a rough coverage of all similar names COARD, COYDE, CROAD, COWDE, CUDE and CLOAD. Many of the stories of the family are contained in the popular blog


The CoadCoode Y-DNA project has been operating since November 2006 and has been vital in determining the true structure of the surname. There are three unrelated families

- A family of Germanic descent from Devon and in central Cornwall

- a family of Celtic descent from Liskeard, now around Truro, St Austell and the Devon border

- a likely distaff line, located in Looe and Crowan