This surname, recorded in such varied spellings as Ramsby, Rimsbe, and Rumsby, is English but possibly of Danish Viking pre 8th century origins. It is clearly locational, and a 'from' name. That is to say that it was a surname probably given to somebody after they left their original home, and moved elsewhere. In the small communities of the late middle ages and the early industrial revolution, the easiest way to identify a 'stranger' was to call him or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic, and local dialects very 'thick', lead to a proliferation of 'sounds like' spellings, often far removed from the original. In this case there is a further complication. No place exists in any of the known surname spellings. This suggests that the name is one of the estimated five thousand or so which originate from now 'lost' medieval places in the British Isles. The ending in 'by' and formerly 'bi', is Danish, and means 'farm'. These endings are most prevalent in East Anglia, and particularly in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. The prefix of 'Rum' probably derives from 'hruna' later transposed to 'rume' and meaning 'log bridge', to give a meaning of 'Bridge Farm'. The name appears in an early surviving London church register as 'Rimsbe', one Nicholas Rimsbe being married at St Katherine's by the Tower, on January 22nd 1615. As his bride is shown to be Elizabeth Oksle (Oxley!), it is clear that he was probably Rumsby. Other recordings include William Rumsby who marrried Sara Shaw at St Martins in the Field, Westminster on January 26th 1782. He had a large family and by the time his last child was christened on August 31st 1801 at St Leonard's Shoreditch, he was recorded as William Ramsby, although he appears as Rumsby in most recordings!
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