Recorded as Foss and Fosse, and in the west and south west of England as Voss and Vosse, this is an English and very occasionally Scottish, surname of ancient origins. It is residential and derives from the pre 7th century word foss or voss meaning a ditch or dike, or in the case of the the Fosse Way, which forms one of the famous Roman Roads of England and running from near Exeter in the far west, upto Lincoln in the East, a road on top of a dike. There are at least ten places or rivers called Foss or Fosse in England and one in Scotland, and it is possible that the name could originate from all or any of them. The first recording though is from Sussex, where as far as we know there is no such place. This demonstrates that residential names were often given to people after they had left their original homes to move somewhere else. This first recording is of John del Fosse in the year 1199, whilst another John, John del Fosse appears in the Tax Subsidy rolls of Somerset in 1327, and Robert atte Voss in Devonshire in 1330.
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