This ancient and distinguished name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational surname for a weaver. The name is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "webba", a derivative of "wefan", to weave, which gave the early Middle English term "webbe". Interestingly, this word survived into Middle English long enough to give rise to the surname, but was replaced as a term for a weaver by the later forms Webber and Webster, which include the redundant agent suffixes "-(st)er". William Langland's 14th Century poem, "Piers Plowman", contains the lines: "My wife was a webbe, And woolen cloth made", while in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" appear: "An haberdasher, and a carpenter, A webbe, a deyer, and a tapiser". The surname is first recorded as a byname, in the person of Alger se Webba, circa 1100 - 1130, in the "Olde English Byname Register" for Devonshire. Early examples of the name include Elyas le Webbe (1255, Oxfordshire), and Johannes Wybbe (1379, Yorkshire). The will of one Nicholas Webbe was registered in Chester in 1603. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jernagan Webbe, which was dated 1221, in medieval records of Suffolk (British Museum), during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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