Recorded in several spelling forms including Cosson, Cossons, Cozen, Cozens and Cusin, this unusual and interesting surname is a patronymic of the surname and status name Cousin. It is early medieval English, but of French origin, and derives from the words "cousin or cusin". These in the Middle Ages, and the later Shakespearean period, had the general meaning of " relative or kinsman", only later did they refer to a direct and close relationship. The surname would thus have denoted a person related in some way to a prominent figure in the neighbourhood. In some cases it may be also have been a nickname for someone who used the term "cousin" frequently as a familiar term of address. A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames; these were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress, and occupation. An interesting namebearer was Alexander Cozens who died in 1786). He was a landscape painter in water-colours, who was born in Russia, and was reputed to be the son of Czar Peter, the Great. He studied art in Italy and settled in England in 1746. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Cusin, which was dated 1166, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk". This was during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189.