Tozer (surname)

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Tozer is a surname commonly believed to have originated in Devon, South West England. Presently the earliest known recording of the name is the March 8, 1417, when Reginald Tozer received letters as a Sub Deacon from the Bishop of Exeter in Devon, England.1. The surname "Tozer" also has variants, including the lesser-known, "Tozier".[1] The surname is a reference to "A Tozer was a man who teased the cloth with a tease".[2]

The Tozers of Moreton Hampstead[edit]

Moreton Hampstead in Devon, England, is considered the original Tozer homestead. Although this can not be proved beyond doubt, all the evidence suggests this to be correct.

"About the middle of the fifteenth century a family of the name was settled in Moreton Hamstead, a small market town near the eastern confines of Dartmoor. Situated on a fertile and salubrious eminence it is encompassed by lofty hills. It is twelve miles W.S.W. of Exeter. It had formerly a share of the woolen industry which declined many years ago." Reference—History of Devonshire by R.N. North (1886)p. 320/321.

The earliest discovered reference to the Tozers of Moreton Hampstead is in 1478. In this year, John Tozer was plaintiff in a Chancery Suit concerning certain lands called Howghton in the manor of Moreton Hampstead. He claimed that his father, William Tozer, was seized of these lands, and that he was the son and heir of the said William. [3]

The farm of Houghton (now Howton, with the main residence "Great Howton" still a functioning house) remained in the family until the 20th century. In the churchyard at Moreton Hampstead, there is a stone with this inscription: "Charles Tozer late of Howton in Moreton died February 27, 1808, aged 29, also of his children, William born October 20, 1808, died at Exeter February 28, 1892.

There was another Tozer settlement in the 1600s in and around Modbury, a small village in the south-west of Devon, and they were connected with Moretonhampstead in their religion. They were Presbyterians, and in the 1600s and 1700s they married in Moretonhampstead because that is where their main meetinghouse was situated. In the 1770s John Tozer (1724–1790) took his family in to Bristol and two of his sons Arthur Tozer (1753–1826) and Isaac Tozer were renowned. Arthur became a prominent businessman and brewer of porter ale. He married the sister of Caleb Evan who fought against slavery. One of Arthur's grandsons, Edward, became mayor of Sheffield as well as the owner of a large cutlery manufacturing company, whilst Isaac became a well-known Somerset preacher. Many of Isaac's descendants migrated in the 1800s to the US, living in Naples in New York State and Cleveland, Ohio. One of John Kimble Tozer's sons joined the US Army in 1850 and was at Fort Sumter, Virginia, when the Confederate Army opened fire to start the Civil War in 1861.

Notable people with the surname[edit]


  1. ^ "Tozier, Name Meaning, Origin, Detailed Name Information & Meaning of Names at NameLab -". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  2. ^ The Romance of Names by Prof. Ernest Weekly M.A. 1914, page 170
  3. ^ Public Record Office. C.1/56/207.