This notable and long-established surname, with no less than five Coats of Arms, and having several distinguished entries in the "National Biography", is of Old Scandinavian origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places thus called in the North Riding of Yorkshire including Danby near Egton, Danby on Ure, and Danby Wiske. All these places are recorded as "Danebi" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and have as their component elements the Old Norse "Dane", Dane, and "byr", village, settlement; hence, "settlement of the Danes". Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Early examples of the name include: Robert de Danebi (Yorkshire, 1212); and John Danby (Nottinghamshire, 1392). Sir Robert Danby, serjeant-at-law (1443) and king's serjeant, was chief-justice of the common pleas from 1461 to 1471, and Francis Danby (1793 - 1861) was a notable artist who excelled as a painter of ideal and poetic landscapes. The title Earl of Danby was borne by the statesman Henry Danvers (1573 - 1644), and by Sir Thomas Osborne (1631 - 1712). The earliest Coat of Arms granted to the Danby family is a silver shield with three chevronels braced in the base point of the escutcheon sable, on a chief of the second three mullets of the first. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rand de Danbi, which was dated 1189, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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