The surname of FOUST was an English and French habitation name from some place named with the Old English word FOSS (ditch) and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form FOSSA. The name was probably an importation from France. The name literally means the dweller at the Roman Foss Way, meaning a road with a ditch alongside it. Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. The name is also spelt FOSS, VOSS, LAFOSSE, FOSSO and FOSSET. Early records of the name mention FOS (without surname) who was documented in the year 978, and FOSSE (without surname) appears in County Somerset in 1235. John del Fosse was documented in the year 1199 in County Sussex. Baptised, John son of David Voss, at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1692. Elizabeth, daughter of David Voss, was baptised at the same church in 1694. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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