By any standards this is a very rare surname. It derives from a "lost" village believed to have been on the borders of Yorkshire and Durham, or it is a dialectual variant of the village name, Melmerby near Thirsk. As Mellonby, Mellenby, Mallanby and Melonby, the surname is well recorded in the North of Yorkshire and specifically the village of Stainton in Cleveland, curiously as Mellanby the spelling is almost entirely concentrated at Sedgefield in Durham. The name is of Olde English and Norse - Viking pre 10th century origins and describes one who was resident at the "bi" (farm) of the Mellingas, a tribe originally prominent in the North East. The hamlet was probably cleared in the 17th century under the Enclosure Acts, the inhabitants splitting into two groups, hence the spelling variations. The recordings include John Melanby of Redmarshal, Durham, on December 10th 1747 when he whitnessed the christening of his daughter Dorothy, and John Mellanby who married Ann Lomsden at Billingham on Christmas Day in 1779. James Melanby, later recorded as Mellanby was a witness, at Sedgefield on May 14th 1822, the first of the Mellanby's in the area. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomae Mellanbie which was dated April 22nd 1645, a witness at Stainton in Cleveland, Yorkshire. during the reign of King Charles 1, known as "The Martyr", 1625 - 1649. 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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