As a surname Fox is found recorded all over the British Isles with great frequency, as would be expected of a soubriquet likely to be handed down as being complimentary. The derivation is from the Middle English "fox", itself coming from the Olde English pre 7th Century "fox". The fox was universally admired for his speed and cunning, attributes which the first namebearer undoubtedly possessed. The surname first appears on record in the latter part of the 13th Century. Other early recordings include: Hugo le Fox, (Cornwall, 1297), and Johannes Fox, "a smyth", noted in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire.A notable namebearer mentioned in the "Dictionary of National Biography" was Richard Fox (1448 - 1528), bishop and statesman, who shared in the first years of Henry V111's reign, and founded for the secular clergy, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1515.An English family of the name settled in County Limerick where they became extensive landowners and gave their name to Mountfox, near Kilmallock; however, in the provinces of Connacht, Leinster and Ulster, Fox is mainly an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "Mac a'tSionnaigh" (son of the Fox). Sir Patrick Fox of Moyvore, County Westmeath, was State Interpreter (of Irish) in 1568. John Fox, aged 35 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship "Abigall" bound for New England in June 1635, was an early emigrant to the New World. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Fox, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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