Perhaps not surprisingly this English surname recorded in the spellings of Obee, Obie, Oby, Obey, and apparently a "Gaelic" spelling of O'Bee, has long raised some differences of opinion between researchers. The eminent Victorian researcher Mr M A Lower in his famous 1842 book "Patronymica Brittania", the first of all major books on surnames, believed that the name derived from a now "lost" medieval place in the county of Norfolk called Ashby. Why he should have thought this when the village of Oby in Norfolk had been established since at least the Domesday Book of 1086, is unclear.Perhaps he was just not aware of its existence. The name is a short form of Oadby, a Danish-Viking pre 8th century place name in Leicestershire, which loosely translates as Audi's farm, with Audi being an early personal name. Oby (village) appears in the 1086 recordings as Othebi, and in the 1196 rolls known as "The feet of fines", basically a tax record for the region, as Oubi. The early surname recordings taken from authentic rolls and charters of the medieval period include Nicholas Obekyn, which is probably a diminutive form (i.e. the "kin" of Oby), in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridge in 1273, in 1788 William Obey married Mary Birkett at St Georges Chapel, Hanover Square, London, whilst Ann Obee was married to John Morris at the same church in 1795. The first known recording is believed to be that of Robert Obe, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Oxford, in 1272. This was in the first year of the reign of King Edward 1st, 1272 - 1307.
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