This famous English surname, much associated with the building of warships, has something of an unproven origin. It would seem to be residential or possibly occupational, and to describe a person who lived by or worked at, a 'waess', or who came from some place so named. This word was the pre 7th century Olde English for a swamp, fen, or lakeland region, and was found in various parts of the country including a village called Wass in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The intrusive 'p' in the surname may be a tranpsposition of the letter 'b' as shown below, or an aid to pronunciation, as found for instance in the surname Thompson. If this is so Vosper could have originated from Vobster, a now 'lost' medieval village, in the county of Somerset. Certainly the surname seems to be of South or West Country origins, since it is in those counties and the city of London, where the name recordings appear to be most prominent. Residential surnames are by their nature 'from' names. That is to say name given as identifiication to people after they left their original home to move somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, often lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings, sometimes far removed from the original form. In this case examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers include: John Vosper at Holy Trinity, Gosport, in Hampshire, on December 4th 1763, and James and Mary Vosper, whose son John was christened at St George, the Martyr, Southwark, city of London, on December 7th 1810.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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