This interesting surname may be either of medieval English or Old French origin. In the first instance, the name is topographical from residence near a river or at an island. The derivation is from the Middle English phrase "atten (e)ye", which means both "at the river", and "at the island", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ea", river, and "eg", island, respectively. This phrase was misdivided and became "atte nye". Later, when the preposition "atte" was dropped, the forms "nye" and "ney(e)" emerged. Early recordings of the surname from this source include one Robert Atteneye (Somerset, 1269). On May 21st 1618, Thomas Ney and Patience Edie were married at St. Mary Mounthaw, London. The French surname Ney, found chiefly in Alsace-Lorraine, is a variant of "Neu", itself deriving from the Old French "neuf, nouveau", and originally given as a nickname to a newcomer to an area. The surname is well recorded in Church Registers of Germany and France. On January 15th 1686, Barbara Ney, an infant, was christened in Schlosszeil, Danaukreis, Wuertt, Germany, and on February 5th 1839, Augusta Bertha Ney and Carl Bernhardt Grahl were married in Alsace-Lorraine Province, France. Michel Ney, duc d'Elchingen, and French Marshal (1769 - 1815), earned the epithet "Bravest of the Brave" at the battle of Borodino (1812). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hanns Ney, which was dated September 14th 1583, marriage to Anna Schreiers, at Esslingen, Neckarkreis, Wuertt, Germany, during the reign of Rudolf 11, Habsburg Emperor, 1576 - 1612. 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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