The Cornish medieval personal name Obby, Opie, or Oppy, shortened forms of the Anglo-Saxon pre 10th Century "Osbert" is believed to be the origin of this very rare name. It has also been suggested, although this is not proven, that the name may be a local dialectal pronunciation of a placename such as "Upottery" in Devon. That the name originates in the far west country would seem to be proven by the recordings as shown below. The name in various forms ranging from Oprey and Opray to O'Prey and Opree, is also recorded in Northern Ireland, but only from June 13th 1831, when John O'Prey married Eleanor Barnes at Killincky, Co.Down. Whether there is an "association" between the Gaelic communities of Cornwall and Ireland is not clear. Of more significance is the recording of Mary Oppray, who married John Norman at St. James' Church, Hatherleigh, Devon, on April 1st 1752, and this would seem to be a "link" to the modern form. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Kattren Opray, which was dated December 13th 1614, marriage to Jacoub Daniell, at Bodmin, Cornwall, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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