This unusual surname, recorded in English Church Registers from the mid 16th Century under the variant spellings Foxeworthy, Foxworthie, Foxworthye and Voxworthy, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in Devonshire because of the high incidence of early surname recordings from that county. The component elements of the placename are he Olde English pre 7th Century "fox", fox, and "worthig", translating variously as "enclosure round a homestead, yard about a house, open place in a village, homestead"; hence, "homestead or enclosure frequented by foxes". The element "worthig" (in modern times "-worthy") is especially widespread in placenames of the South West, as in Holsworthy and Woolfardisworthy (Devonshire) and Hamworthy (Dorset). An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared in Britain, mainly as a result of the enforced clearing of rural settlements to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade from the 15th Century on, and also due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. On December 23rd 1599, Georg Foxworthy was recorded at Churston Ferrers, Devonshire, and on February 18th 1600, Robert, son of Hughe Foxworthy, was christened at Widecombe in the Moor, also in Devonshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adrianus Foxworthie, which was dated April 29th 1548, marriage to Maria Hayman, at Ugborough, Devonshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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