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About the study
This ONS was started in 2011 growing out of the genealogical study of my family.
The preliminary focus has been to collect records from England, Ireland and Australia, and continued data collection will cover other geographic regions.
My earliest known direct ancestor is John Vize (c1776 - 1823) a brewer in Rotherhithe, Surrey. All the descendants of this line have consistently used the "vize" spelling and descendants with the Vize name are now found in Australia, South Africa (1), Canada (1), Thailand (2) and the USA (2). There are no known descendants with the Vize name remaining in England.
The variants currently covered are VIZE, VISE, VYSE and VYZE
Other variants may include VICE, FICE and VYCE. To date enough evidence has not been collected to show these as variants.
Misspellings (not covered by the study but common) and poor transcriptions include VYES, VIES, VIGE, TYRE, VOZE, VIRE, VINE, VYNE, NEZE, WYSE, RISE, NYSE, UYSE, OYER, VOYZE, VYZS, VOGE, VOSSE, VIPE, CYSE, VICHA, WISE, WYSE, PRYSE, VYCE, VIZES, VEYS, VYESE and others.
Reaney’s Dictionary of British Surnames gives the meaning of Vize as “dweller by the boundary” derived from old French and therefore most likely of Norman origin. The name is therefore thought to be locational and may have derived from one or more places in England. Candidates include Vize, a small hamlet near Ashwater or the former hamlet of Vyse Wood, near Morthoe, both in Devonshire.
There is also potential for non-English antecedents for some lines through anglicisation of similar German or Dutch names.
History of the name
The first Vize in history is named as John de la Vise who reputedly came to England in 1227. Following the Norman invasion of 1066, it was common for settlement of Normans through England over the following 200 years. This John was said to be a friend of The King of England who granted him lands in Wiltshire in the area now known as Devizes. This King would have been Henry III (1216-1272). No evidence has yet been found to support this.
Richard of Devizes (fl 1189-1192) appears to pre-date what is considered use of Vize as a surname. It is certainly believed that in this case, it denotes simply that Richard was born in Devizes, hence pre-dating the supposed arrival of John de la Vise as noted above. Little is known about Richard’s life and origins as he is known only from his writings, which cover the period from King Richard I “the Lionheart” between 1189 until after his death in 1199.
The first recorded usage of the surname Vize (Vise, Vyse, Vyze, Vies) dates to the year 1296. The Canterbury Cathedral Dean and Chapter Archives holds quitclaims dated 1296 and 12981 that record a John le vyse as a witness to two land leases in Essex.
From: Laurence de Gardino, son of Laurence le porter' of Prittlewell To: Peter of Southchurch For an annual payment of 18d, payable by Walter barun of Southchurch for a messuage and 1 acre of land in Southchurch. For this Peter has paid 13s 6d. Given at Southchurch [Essex]. Witnesses: 'Dominus' John of Rochford, knight; 'Dominus' Henry Grapinel, knight; 'Dominus' Richard of Barrow ('Barwe') [in Little Wakering?], knight; Henry de Genges; Philip perdriz; John samuel; Philip serle; John Jacob; John le vyse Endorsed with description and 'In Soucherch'' in 14th cent hands. Quitclaim CCA-DCc-ChAnt/S/42 4 May 1296
From: William de Addentonne of Prittlewell parish; Beatrice, wife of William de Addentonne of Prittlewell parish To: 'Dominus' Peter of Southchurch For an annual payment of 4d, payable by John strangman for 1 acre of land which was of Robert de le Hale in Prittlewell. For this Peter has paid 3s. Given at Southchurch [Essex]. Witnesses: Hugh de Newyle; Philip Serle; John Samwel' senior; John Samwel' junior; Laurence le port'; Bartholomew of Mucking ('mockinge'); Ranulf the cook ('kocus'); John le vyse Endorsed with description in 14th cent hand. Surrender and quitclaim CCA-DCc-ChAnt/S/52 30 May 1298
The next record is from the early 14th century in London. The murder of John atte Vyse, a London saddler is recorded in the year 1326 (Calendar of Coroners Rolls, City of London 1300-1378). Arising from a quarrel between the Goldsmiths and Saddlers, when John was walking along High Street of Chepe in the evening, three Goldsmiths accosted him. He was struck by the first man with a sword on the left side of the head inflicting a mortal wound, by the second with an axe that almost severed his leg, whilst the third beat him with a staff after he fell to the pavement. He lay in the street until morning when discovered by his friends. He lingered in pain for a further three days before dying.
On Friday after the Feast of St Martin ano 19 Edward II., information given to Benedict de "Folsham", the Coroner of London, Gilbert de Mordone and John de Cotone, the Sheriffs of the City, that John atte Vyse, "sadeler," lay dead of a death other than his rightful death in the house which he held of Johanna de Wokyndon in Goderomlane in the parish of in the Ward of Farndone Within. ... on Sunday the eve of St. Martin aforesaid, shortly after the hour of curfew, were walking in the High Street of Chepe, lying in wait for men of the mistery of Saddlers in order to beat them, on account of a quarrel that had arisen between men of the mistery of Goldsmiths and that of Saddlers; that meeting the aforesaid John atte Vyse opposite the stone cross in Chepe the said John de Wynestone, Thomas de Walpol and Martin de Aumbresbure assaulted him, the said John de Wynestone striking him with a sword on the left side of the head, inflicting a mortal wound seven inches long and three inches deep, and the said Thomas Walpol striking him with an "ax" and nearly severing his leg, whilst the aforesaid Martin belaboured him with a staff when lying on the pavement. They further say that the aforesaid William de Grenstede, Thomas le Waryner, John le Joignour, William Shonk, Simon Lyghtfot, Richard de Aumbresbury, James de Shordiche, John Galle and John Baudechon aided and abetted the felony; that the said John atte Vyse thus beaten and wounded lay there groaning until carried by his friends to the house aforesaid, where he had his ecclesiastical rights and where he lingered until the following Thursday, when he died about cock-crow of his wounds.
The next recorded using of the name was Robert atte Vise, who is noted in the Sussex Subsidy Roll of 1327. Robert was a landholder in the Parish of Shoreham, Rape of Bramber in West Sussex. One of 44 men assessed in Shoreham, holdings were valued at a modest 1 shilling, while his richest neighbour was assessed for 19 s 6 d. The value of 1 s was in fact the smallest assessment to be made. He was also a property owner in the Parish of Kingston, also in the Rape of Bramber, where he was assessed for 1 s 2d. Robert does not appear in the 1332 Sussex Subsidy Roll.
In 1334 Richard ate Vise was awarded the custody of the park of Clebury during the minority of its heir Edmund de Mortuo Mari (Patent Rolls of Edward III). The location of Clebury is not mentioned.2
John de Vyse was given charge of the sub-deanery of Salisbury in 1347/8 by the Abbot of Middleton and Canon of Exeter (Calendar of Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Vol 3). John is designated as Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Canon Law, so had probably attended Oxford (founded at the beginning of the 13th century) or Cambridge (founded between 1209 and 1225). At the time he was litigating in the Roman court over the church of Semelagh, for which he agreed to resign his claim in 1348. He was later nominated for a canonry and prebend of Exeter, which was granted on 1349 (Clement VI Petitions to the Pope: 1342-1419).
2 Non. Jan. Avignon. (f. 115.)
To the abbot of Middleton, John Thursten, canon of Salisbury, and Henry de Pik, canon of Exeter. Mandate to give to John de Vyse, B.A. and B.C.L. the subdeanery of Salisbury, value 15 marks, void by Robert de Worthe obtaining the church of Bradford, in the diocese of Salisbury, although Randolph de Querendon, who is to be removed, occupies it. The church of Semelegh, about which Vyse is litigating in the Roman court, is to be resigned.
Ibid. [f. 117]
The same. On behalf of John de Vyse, B.A. B.C.L. for a canonry and prebend of Exeter; notwithstanding that provision has been made to him of the subdeanery of Salisbury and of a canonry and prebend of Wilton. Granted. Dated as above.
This John is also listed in the Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae.
In 1354 a Serlo Vyse was claimant to a property in Tregellast, Parish of St Keverne, Cornwall. Serlo later acknowledged that he had gifted both the manor and tenements to Richard de Coryton (Cannon Diggens Archive)3.
So we have five Vizes living around the same time in England – Robert in Sussex, John in Wiltshire (possibly not his area of origin), a second John in London, Serlo in Cornwall and Richard location unknown. Two are men of property, one a clergyman and the fourth a tradesman. We do not however know if they are connected in any way.
3 Canon Diggens Archive http://www.st-keverne.com/History/Diggens/d20.html
2 Patent Rolls of Edward III http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/patentrolls/e3v3/body/Edward3vol3page0055.pdf
Using the Surnames of England and Wales, the following results are obtained (from most common):
VYSE count 816 ranking 7783
VIZE count 118 ranking 29851
VISE count 31 ranking 68493
VYZE count 32 ranking 67185
A total of 997 occurrences from more than 54 million people.
Distribution of the name
The Vize surname is most common in England and also found Irelands Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and South Africa.