Latin, coscet, coscez.
With the exception of nine Cottagers on a single manor in Shropshire, all Cottagers recorded in Domesday Book occur in circuit 2 - the south-western counties - where over 1700 are numbered. The peculiarities of this distribution, and the fact that Domesday Cottagers were equated with smallholders in some satellite texts, suggests that there was often little to distinguish the two groups, or to separate either from cottagers.
Although Cottagers are itemised among the lower ranks of the rural population, it has been suggested that their distribution may indicate areas of economic opportunity and expansion either in land clearance or urban development.
For more detail, see F.W. Maitland, Domesday Book and beyond (1897); Reginald Lennard, Rural England, 1086-1135: a study of social and agrarian conditions (1959); H.C. Darby, Domesday England (1977); and Christopher C. Dyer, 'Towns and cottages in eleventh-century England', Studies in medieval history presented to R.H.C. Davis (1985), pages 91-106, reprinted in his Everyday life in medieval England (2000).