This unusual name is of apparent Scottish origin but is not recorded there before the 13th Century. The name may derive from a "lost" Scottish location or it may be a derivative from the nickname "Fulgheffish" - a Saxon - Olde English word for a seller of rotten fish. This unusual background does not appear to have been a bar to the sucess of the name, William de Foulis being perpetual Vicar of Kirktown, Stirling C.1300 and Sir Alan Foulis being Canon of St.Andrews in 1305. In 1530 Sir James Foulis is recorded as being Private Secretary to King James V and another Sir James Foulis being the first Lord Colinton in 1672. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginaldus Foulis. which was dated C.1220, Charter Witness. during the reign of King Alexander II of Scotland 1214 - 1249. 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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