The surname of VOSS was derived from the Old English name FOSSE and was a locational name. In Somerset, the surname is recorded in Doulting and Shepton Mallet, on each side of the Fosse Way, along which lie three farms called Fosse in Wiltshire. The initial V is the southern spelling. There are many variant spellings of the name which include Forse, and Vos. 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. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village early times, has served to name many families. Fosse Way was an ancient road from Lincolshire to near Axminster, past Leicestershire, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester and Bath. The road was named from the foss or ditch which was alongside it. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name.
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