This unusual surname is apparently recorded in many forms including Malby, Maleby, Mallaby, Melby and possibly Melbury and Milby. It is apparently of English origins and locational. Its probable source is a now "lost" medieval village of which the only public reminder in the 20th century is the surviving surname in its various forms. At least three thousand surnames of the British Isles are known to come from this group. However it is also possible that it is a transposed spelling of either the hamlet of Milby meaning the mill at the farm, in the county of North Yorkshire, and originally on the route of the Great North Road constructed by the Romans in the 1st century a.d., or even from the village of Melbury (the grazing land on the hill) from the Olde English pre 7th century "mael-beorh" far away in the county of Devonshire.Locational surnames were by their very nature usually "from" names. That is to say surnames given to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere, one of the easiest forms of identification being to call strangers by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling through the centuries being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. Examples of the surname recordings taken from various surviving church registers and showing the name development over the centuries include: Peter Milbie christened at Aldborough, Yorkshire, on November 6th 1540, Richard Maleby, a witness at St Johns Hackney, in Greater London, on October 19th 1698, and Margaret Mallaby, christened at the church of St Mary le Bow, in the city of London, on June 29th 1728.
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