This is an English residential surname, but of Norse-Danish-Viking pre 10th century origins. Recorded in the spellings of Fearby, Firby, Furby, and Fearbye, the name derives from the village of Fearby high in the Yorkshire Dales above the market town of Masham. The village name translates as 'the beautiful place' or similar, a very appropriate description on a summer day, and is first recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as 'Fereby'. Locational surnames were usually given to people after they moved from their original home to a new place, as an easy means of identification. In this case the first recorded name holders seem to have moved some distance, suggesting that perhaps the village was 'cleared' in the 16th century to allow for increased sheep farming, a common occurrence. When this happened the tenants were forced to move afield in such of new homes and new work. Early examples of the surname recording include Francis Firby of Kirkby Fleetham, Thirsk, on June 29th 1606, and Alice Fearby of Askham Bryan, York, on May 11th 1636. Other recordings include John Firby of Askam Bryan, there was obviously dissension in that village over the spelling, on May 14th 1666, and Ann Furby of Well, near Masham, on December 27 1766. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jane Fearby, which was dated November 6th 1541, married at Aberford, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as 'Bluff King Hal', 1510 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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