Recorded as Rabey, Rabey, Ribby, Ribey, Riby, Rybie, and possibly others, this is an English locational surname. It originates either from the village of Raby, near the town of Neston, in the county of Cheshire, or from Ribby (with Wrea), a village near the town of Kirkham in Lancashire. The relative nearness of the two places has apparently lead to some overlapping and confusion in the surname spellings. Both place names have a Viking origin, the suffix '-by' being a short form of the Norse-Danish 'byr' meaning a farm. Raby does mean 'The farm by the boundary marker' from the pre 7th century 'raa byr', whilst Ribby y means 'The farm on a ridge' being first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Rigbie. Raby was also recorded in Domesday Book in the spellings of either Rabie or Rabi. Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say identification names given to people after they left their original village. Nothing could be much easier identification than to call a person by the name of the place that he or sometimes she, originated from. In this case one of the earliest recording is that of Thomas Rybie of West Burton, North Yorkshire, in 1555, during the reign of Queen Mary 1st of England, whilst Nicholas Raby of Cuerden in Cheshire is recorded in the Wills Records of the county in the year 1670, during the reign of King Charles 11nd of England (1649 - 1685).
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