This unusual surname is probably of Yorkshire origins, and is certainly Olde English. It was originally a medieval nickname for a 'smart' person. That is somebody smart in the business sense, one who was able to make a 'good deal'. This meaning was changed to the post- Second World War 'spiv', which described a black marketeer, but this was the opposite to its origin. What is certain is that the surname has been around for a long time, and has enjoyed some popularity, a fact in itself which tends to confirm the original meaning.It has been suggested that the name could have originally described a 'look out', or one who lived in a place such as a 'look out' tower. This is possible but unproven on the records to hand. The name is relatively early into London with the marriage of John Spyvye to Isabell Booth, another very northern name, on August 25th 1612 at the church of St gregory's by St Pauls. Earlier Yorkshire recordings going back to the beginnings of church registers include William Spivie of Barnsley on October 22nd 1590, Edmund Spivey of Almondbury on Boxing Day 1655, and slightly later in London William and Margery Spivey at St James, Clerkenwell on November 28th 1738. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Spivie, which was dated July 1st 1565, who was christened at Almondbury Parish Church, Yorkshire, 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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