This is a locational surname of Dutch-Flanders origins, which contains the aristocratic preposition "de" implying land ownership. The usual spelling form is Oosterhout, all early recordings to which we have access, being in this form, the slightly transposed variant being an 18th century development. "Oosterhout" which translates literally as "The East Place" is a town in North Brabant near the Belgium (Flanders) border, an area once heavily influenced by France. Vries, the origin of "de Vree" is a small town near Assen in the Province of Drenthe, and presumably the original family of Oosthout at some stage moved to Vries, and adopted or were granted, the additional surname, at a later date, in effect creating a double barrelled surname. De Vree holds a coat of arms granted in Utrecht, this is a gold fleur-de-lis on a red field, suggesting service to the French Crown. Examples of the surname recordings include Froukje Oosthout, christened at Drachten, Friesland, on June 8th 1796, whilst Theunis De Vree was christened at Avezaath, Gelderland, one hundred years earlier on June 9th 1695. Regretably recordings in these regions are very erratic until the 19th century. This is mainly owing to the succession of wars which swept the northern continent from the 14th century to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Marijtye Oosterhout, which was dated October 31st 1688, married Jan van der Bent, at Gouda, Zuid Holland, during the reign of William 111 of Orange and England, 1650-1702. 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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