Recorded as Tilbey, Tilbury, Tilberry and probably others, this is an English surname. It is locational from any of three parishes in the county of Essex. These are East and West Tilbury, recorded as "Tilaburg", in Bede's "Historia Ecclesiastica" in 730 a.d., and respectively as "Estillebery" and "Westtillebire" in the tax rolls known as the Feet of Fines for that county, dated 1199 - 1203, and Tilbury juxta Clare, entered as "Tiliberia" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Tyllebery" in "the Valuation of Norwich", dated 1254. All these places share the same meaning and derivation, and have as their initial element the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Tila", from "til", capable, and "burg", usually translating as "fortified place, fort". Very often the reference is to a Roman or other pre-English fort, though in many cases "burg" denotes a fortified manor, town or borough. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. In 1273, one Richard de Tillebyr, was noted in the Hundred Rolls of Essex. The first recorded namebearer (below) was present at the meeting of Emperor Frederick 1 and Pope Alexander 111 in 1177, and later made marshal of Arles by the Emperor Otto 1V, to whom he dedicated his work "Otia Imperialia". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gervase de Tilbury. This was dated circa 1211, in the "Dictionary of National Biography", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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