Recorded as Wartnaby, Wartuaby, Wartoby, Whartonby, and no doubt others, this is unusual surname is English, but with more than a dash of pre 8th century Danish Viking. It is locational from a village called Wartnaby in the county of Leicestershire. This village is first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Worcnodebie' which does bear a little resemblance to the modern form, or more accurately vice versa. The place name has nothing to do with 'warthogs' and everything to do with military defence. It is said that the village is situated on a high hill, because it does mean 'The watch tower (or castle) on a high place'. The Danish Vikings are associated with the East Anglian and Yorkshire regions, whilst Wartaby is well inland. It is therefore likely that the original 'settlers' were an outpost, and at best highly unpopular with their Anglo-Saxon neighbours, so to keep a careful watch, was essential. The surname is well recorded in the surviving church registers of the county of Leicestershire and examples include Robert Walnabie of Great Dalby, in 1604, Amiah Wartnaby christened at Stonesby on November 5th 1715, and Robert Whatanaby, who married Mary Pitts at Frisby on the Wreak, on April 27th 1789.
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