This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from Orra, a hamlet south-east of Stokesley in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century element "ora", meaning ore, possibly a place where ore was found; or it can also mean a border, margin or bank. In some placenames, such as Orford and Oare, the element can have the meaning "river bank or shore". During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often used their former village name as a means of identification, thus resulting in a wide dispersal of the surname. Early recordings of this rare surname in the Yorkshire Church Registers include: the christening of Francis, son of James Orrah, which took place on May 12th 1745, at Ebberston; the marriage of John Orrah and Elizabeth Carr at Ebberston, on June 5th 1758; and the christening of William Orrah on February 20th 1774, also at Ebberston. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Orra, which was dated May 10th 1680, marriage to Ellen Locton, at Ebberston, in Yorkshire, during the reign of King Charles 11, known as "The Merry Monarch", 1660 - 1685. 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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