This unusual and intriguing name is of early medieval English origin, and derives from a nickname for someone considered to be a showy, colourful dresser. The nickname derives from the Middle English "pe", peacock, with "body", body, person. The creation of surnames from the habitual use of nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to, for instance, a person's physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress and occupation. The name Peabody is well recorded in London Church Registers in a variety of forms: Richard Pebody, a christening witness at St. Mary Somerset in 1583; Jane Paybody, christened at St. Vedast, Foster Lane, on August 28th 1597, and Elizabeth Pyebody, married to Thomas Stubbs in Clerkenwell in 1615. One John Peabody was baptised in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, in 1590, and Francis Pebeddy was an early emigrant to the American colonies, leaving London on the "Planter" in April 1635, bound for New England. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richarde Pabodie, which was dated November 11th 1582, marriage to Margaret Harison, at St. Mary Somerset, London, 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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