This very uncommon name is English. It is however arguably of pre 8th century Danish-Viking origin, and is a form of Barnby, from the place so called in the county of Suffolk near the town of Beccles. The placename is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Barnebei", and is derived from the personal name "Biarni", with "byr", a homestead, hence, "Biarni's homestead". Locational surnames were used particularly as a means of identification by those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere; regional dialectal influences and varying standards of literacy frequently gave rise to different forms of the original name.In this instance, the placename has generated the surnames of Barnaby, Barneby, Barmby, Parnaby, Parnby, Parmby, and Palmby. The forms Parmby and Palmby (the "l" of Palmby is probably the result of phonetic folk etymology) are found almost exclusively in Cambridgeshire, and although there are other places called Barnby in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, none of these would seem to have been the source for this suname. Examples of the name spelling taken from the early surviving church registers include: Parmebie (1598, Cambridgeshire); Parnbie (1599, ibid.); Parmeby (1601, ibid.); Barmby (1632, Suffolk); and Pambey (1677, Cambridgeshire); The christening of Sarah, daughter of Francis Palmby, was recorded in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, on June 29th 1701. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rychard Parmby, which was dated February 11th 1597, at St. Sepulchre church, Cambridge. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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