Recorded as Ox, the shortest surname in the English listings, Oxe, Oxx, Oxer, Oxor, Oxherd, and possibly others, this is a medieval occupational surname. It does describe an oxherd, or at least a person who looked after cattle, or just possibly was a medieval nickname for a clumsy person, such names being highly popular. According to Bardsley's Dictionary of English and Welsh surnames written in 1880, the surname was first recorded in Pardons Roll, created in the 6th year of the reign of King Richard 11nd or 1313, with that of Stephen Oxe. Occupational surnames were amongst the first to be created, but usually they did not become hereditary until, or unless, a son followed his father into the same occupation or profession. In this case the popular form is Bull, followed by Bullock, with there being relatively few Ox's and even fewer Cows although Cowes, being from the town in the Isle of Wight, has some following. Examples of recordings include Mary Oxx who married John Gedion at St Georges Chapel, Westminster, in 1745, and Ann Oxer who married William Holmes at St Martins in the Field, also Westminster, in 1777.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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