This most unusual and rare surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool-trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The original place is believed to have been situated in the Wash counties, because of the large number of early recordings in that region. The derivation of the placename is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ac", oak, and "by", village, settlement, homestead; hence, "homestead by the oak tree(s)". Recordings of the surname from English Church Register include: the christening of Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Ockby, on August 6th 1655, at Attleborough, Norfolk; the christening of William, son of John Ockeby, at Morton by Bourne, Lincolnshire, on March 15th 1675; and the marriage of Thomas Oakeby and Jane Smith on January 13th 1695, at Old Swinford, Worcestershire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Ockebie, which was dated February 12th 1603, witness at the christening of his son, John, at Everton, Nottinghamshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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