This interesting surname as Karby is probably English and locational, but may equally be French. Recorded in the British surnames listing as Carby, Careby and Karby, for most nameholders, it probably originates from Careby, a village in Lincolnshire, in the region known as East Anglia. This village name means 'The farm of Kari' from the Danish word 'byr' meaning a farm, and Kari, a variant of the German Karl or the Roman Carolus, meaning chief or similar. Curiously the surname would also appear to occur in 17th century France, in that Benjamin and Ester le Paire Karby, being French Huguenots refugees, were recorded as christening witnesses at the French church, Threadneedle Street, city of London, on July 30th 1671.However the French dictionaries are silent on the spelling, and it has not been possible to prove that version of the origin either way. Other recordings from the later registers include Ann Karby who married John Braiser on September 13th 1731 at St. Benet Pauls Wharf, London and Bailey Karby who married Rose Woodwards on November 30th 1766 at St. Matthew Bethnal Green, London. 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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