This is a name of very early habitational origins which has travelled a long road. It combines the elements of "teme", an ancient British word for a river, as found in the river names Thames. Thame, Teme and Tame, plus the pre 7th Century Old English "burg", shortened by dialectal usage to "by". The translation is "the hill by the river", a description which applies to the towns of Tenbury (Worcester) and Tenby (Pembroke), these being recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as "Temesberie". We therefore having the confusion that the surname has remained true to its origins, but this is not quite the case, "Tembey" was once Tenbeye or Tenbee undergoing a "conversion" early in the 18th Century. The first recording in the "modern" spelling would seem to be John Tembey who married Mary Cooney at the church of St. Katherines by the Tower, London on January 28th 1744. Also in the records is one Joseph Tunby a witness at St. Olaves, London on February 2nd 1826. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Tenbeye, which was dated October 21st 1604, a witness at the church of St. Gregory by St. Paul's, London, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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