Recorded in a number of spellings including Westaby, Westby, Westerby, Westoby, and Westbay, this is an English surname. It is locational from Westby, a place recorded several times in England, and specifically in the counties of Lancashire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire. These places are all named from the pre 8th century Old Norse word "vestr" meaning "west", plus "byr", a farmstead or small settlement. Locational surnames are names that were originally given to people whose predecessors were either the local lords of the manor, or who left the area to seek work elsewhere, and who were given for easy identification, the name of their former home. Spelling being at best indifferent and local accents very "thick", soon lead to the development of alternative spellings. In this case early examples of the surname recording include: Roberte Westerbe who died in the city of London in 1542, and was buried at the church of St Peters Cornhill, and Margaret Westerbie who married John Slawter at St James Clerkenwell in 1595. A coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of a silver field charged with three silver escallops on a blue bend. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Johannes de Westeby in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in the year 1379. 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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