This interesting and unusual surname is of Old French origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be locational from Viza in Ashwater, Devon; Vyse Wood in Morthoe, Devon; or from Devizes, Wiltshire, formerly "The Devise, Vises" and "The Vyse". The derivation of the placenames is from the Old French "devise", Latin "divisae", boundary, which implies that an important boundary must once have run past these places. During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Secondly, the surname may be topographical for a "dweller by the boundary" (from the above derivation). Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. John de la Vise is noted in the 1330 Place-names of Devon. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Vice, Vise, Vyse, Vize and Fice. On April 11th 1799, Sarah, daughter of Peter and Harriett Fice, was christened at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, London. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family depicts a black buck's head cabossed, between the attires a black cross, all on a silver shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert atte Vise, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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