This interesting and unusual surname is a variant of Ebsworthy, which is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from a place so called in Devonshire. The placename is derived from an ancient personal name 'Ebba', of uncertain origin and the Old English pre 7th Century 'worth', enclosure, settlement, and means 'Ebba's settlement'. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The modern surname can be found as Ebsworthy, Ebsworth, Ebsworthe and Ibsworth. The christening of John, son of John and Elinor Ebsworth, was recorded on May 1st 1705 at Ilfracombe, Devonshire. An interesting namebearer was Joseph Ebsworth (1788 - 1868), a dramatist and musician, who was a baritone singer at Covent Garden Theatre. He was an actor and prompter at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh and abandoned the stage to become choir-leader at St. Stephen's Church. He also wrote numerous short dramas and a collection of songs in manuscript. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Christian Ebsworthe (marriage to John Cowt), which was dated October 26th 1562, Stoke Gabriel, Devonshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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