Recorded in various forms including Fotherbie, Fotherby and Fotherbye, this is an English surname. It is locational from the village of Fotherby in the county of Lincolnshire, the same area that produced many of the Pilgrim Fathers, the early settlers who sailed for America in the ship Mayflower, in 1620. The village name is believed to be Danish-Viking, with the prefix being originally "Fota", an early Scandanavian personal name introduced into England by the Vikings in the 7th century, and -by, a short form of byr, to give the meaning of Fota's cattle farm. Locational surnames are usually "from names. That is to say names given as easy identification to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. Spelling being at best erratic and local dialects thick, soon lead to the devlopment of variant spelling forms. In this case early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers of Lincolnshire include: Grace Fotherbye of Markby, who married John Rabonn, on August 9th 1573, George Fotherbie, who married Margaret Mowforth at Gainsborough, on September 15th 1597, and Hellen Fotherby, who married Thomas Trewsdale, at Boston, on April 24th 1628.
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