Recorded in several forms including Yea, Yeo, Atyeo, Attyeo, Yo and others, this is an English surname. It is a topographical for someone who lived near a river, from the pre 7th century word "ea" meaning stream or small river. In the following centuries this spelling became became ya or yo in the Middle English dialects of the West Country, and later Yea or yeo. It gave rise to several river and minor placenames in this region, and not surprisingly the surname is well recorded in the counties of Devonshire and Somerset in that region. Early examples of the surname recording taken from the earliest surviving medieval charters and rolls include Alexander de Ya in the Aissize Rolls of Somerset in 1257 and Richard atte Yea in the pipe rolls of 1340. Later examples taken from surviving church registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Julia Yea who married Edward Smith, at St. Margaret's, Westminster on April 30th 1584, Daniell Yoo, who married Margery Browne at the same church on May 23rd 1593, and William, the son of Charles and Elizabeth Yeo, who was christened at St. Dunstans in the East, Stepney on April 11th 1634. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey de la Ya. This was dated 1216, in the Subsidy Rolls of Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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