Recorded as Tanby, Teanby, Tenby, Tinby, Tonbye, Townby, Toynbee, and probably others, this is an Anglo-Welsh locational surname. It is believed to originate from the Pembrokeshire town of Tenby, a region which used to be known as 'Little England' or 'England beyond Wales', because of the large number of so-called English who settled there in medieval times. As it happens many were not English at all, but Flemish, although this 'difference' probably did not concern the native Welsh, who often with good reason, regarded all incomers as English, and therefore to be treated with considerable suspicion. Curiously Tenby itself may have been a 'Viking' creation, as usually the suffix 'by' indicates a Scandanavian settlement or farm, although the prefix is almost certainly from the Olde English word 'tene' as in the various River Teigns. This word usually means a slow flowing river. In this case examples of the surname recording taken from the church registers of Greater London include John Tenbye at St Gregory's by St Paul's Cathedral, on January 23th 1605, and William Toynbee christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on April 24th 1767.
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