This surname was a baptismal name 'the son of Joseph' an ancient font name. In medieval Europe this name was borne frequently, but by no means exclusively by Jews. In the Book of Genesis, Joseph is the favourite son of Jacob, who is sold into slavery by his brothers, but rises to become a leading minister in Egypt. In the New Testament Joseph is the husband of the Virgin Mary. The name was originally brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066, and Josephus (without surname) who was documented in the Domesday Book of 1086, appears to be the first of the name on record. Joseph (without surname) was documented in 1141 in County Norfolk, and Umfridus filius Jospe appears in 1205 in Hertfordshire.
The names introduced into Britain by the Normans during the Invasion of 1066 were of three kinds. There were names of Norse origin which their ancestors had carried into Normandy; names of Germanic origin which the Frankish conquerors had brought across the Rhine and which had ousted the old Celtic and Latin names from France, and Biblical names and names of Latin and Greek saints. These names they retained even after the customs and language of the natives of Northern France had been adopted by them. After the Norman Conquest not only Normans, but Frenchmen and Bretons from other parts of France settled in England, and quite a few found their way north into Scotland. Other records of the name mention Galian relict Joseph, 1273, County Oxford. Thomas Joseph of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Anthony Joseph and Mary Thomas were married at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in the year 1754. John Gough and Jane Josephs were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1799. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
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