(Not sure if this should be on the English.SE. I ask here since it is quoted from a historical document.)


I do by these summon you to deliver up the City of Oxford into my hands, for the use of the Parliament. I very much desire the preservation of that place (so famous for learning), from ruin, which inevitably is like to fall upon it, except you concur. You may have honourable terms for yourself and all within that garrison if you reasonably accept thereof. I desire the answer this day, and remain

Your servant


(FAIRAX appears to be a typo for Fairfax, a commander in the English Civil War)


What does THO stand for? Usually I would expect a Google search to easily find the answer, but THO appears to be a rather rare acronym, and none of them seem appropriate. The most "sensible" appears to be "The Holy Observer", which nonetheless sounds like nonsense.

  • 11
    Abbreviation for Thomas? The Fairfax in question presumably being Sir Thomas Fairfax: ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Oxford
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 2:35
  • 1
    The colon (:) is used for abbreviating family names in Swedish, for instance.
    – Lucian
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 2:47
  • 1
    @jamesqf You're almost certainly right. See also Boyd’s first name abbreviations, it's listed there. Commented May 17, 2021 at 3:00
  • 2
    Indeed, on checking the source cited by Wikipedia for that quote, it gives "Tho. Fairfax" as the signature. Replacing the colon with a period makes it more obvious that THO is simply short for Thomas. I can delete this question if desired, it has been answered.
    – Allure
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 3:07
  • 1
    Thanks for answer! Without it I'd probably have kept searching for a meaningful abbreviation for "THO".
    – Allure
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


Following the citation in Wikipedia to the book in google books the signature there (page 480) is presented as "Tho. Fairfax" not "THO: FAIRAX".

screenshot of quotation

"Tho." is the standard abbreviation of "Thomas", the first name of writer of the letter, as suggested in the comments by @jamesqf

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