This very uncommon name is of Old Scandinavian origin, and is a variant form of the locational surname Barnby, from the place so called in Suffolk near Beccles. The placename is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Barnebei, Barneby", and is derived from the Old Scandinavian personal name "Biarni", with "byr", homestead, village; 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 thereafter. In this instance, the placename Barnby has generated the surnames 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, and two called Barmby in Humberside, none of these would seem to have been the source for this unusual name. Examples of the name from Church Registers include: Parmebie (1598, Cambridgeshire); Parnbie (1599, ibid.); Parmeby (1601, ibid.); Barmby (1632, Suffolk); and Pamb(e)y (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, marriage to Alse Wrench, at St. Sepulchre's, Cambridgeshire, 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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