This interesting and unusual surname is English. It is recorded in the church registers in many spellings including Oxtaby, Oxtarby, Oxterby, Oxtoby, Oxteby, Oxtiby, and the first spelling as shown below of Owexterbe. It is from this spelling that we derive clues as to the origin. It is locational, and derives probably from the Lincolnshire village of Owersby, near the town of Market Rasen. This place is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as 'Oresbi'. Today the surname is concentrated in East Yorkshire, in the area around Beverley and Market Weighton. The origination is however Danish-Viking, the first element is most likely the Old Danish personal name 'Awair' followed by the traditional Viking 'bi', meaning farmstead. In the late medieval period, tenants were often driven off their lands to facilitate sheep farming, and these people took as their surnames, the name of their former home. As however spelling was rudimentary and local dialects almost different languages, surnames took on a phonetic appearance. Early examples of the name recording include John Oxtiby and his wife Isable, witnesses at Lund near Beverley on December 9th 1657, and John Oxtabie, who married Alice Busbie, also at Lund, on July 24th 1670. On June 30th 1669, Jane Oxtoby married Joshua Champion at Rowley near Hull, whilst on November 27th 1740 Elizabeth Oxtoby married Peter Holdsworth at Lund. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Richard Owexterbe. This was dated May 4th 1625, at St. Lawrence Church, in the city of York. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop," often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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