This name with variant spellings 'Foat' and 'Food' has two possible origins. Firstly, it derives from the Old English, pre 7th Century 'foda', food, which gave rise to the meaning 'that which is fed', for example, 'a child'. 'The Middle English Dictionary' prior to 1225, records such a meaning of 'foda'. The second origin is that of a metonymic occupational name for one who sold food, or an early name for a grocer. The surname was first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below). In Southern England the 'f' was pronounced 'v' and dialectal changes resulted in 'v' becoming 'w', which may explain the frequency of the surname 'Wood'. One Richard Food was also recorded as Vod, Wod and le Vod in the 'Calander of Documents for Essex', 1237. On December 28th 1827, Mary Ann Foat was christened in Finsbury, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elfred Fode, which was dated 1221, Ancient Charters of Ely, Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 111, 'The Frenchman', 1216-1272. 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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