This interesting surname, with spellings of Wilbye, Wilbe, Wilby and Wilbee, is widespread in the county of Yorkshire. It is of English locational origin from any of the various places called Wilby scatttered around the East Anglian region. The first in Northamptonshire and recorded as "Willabyg" in the year 1067, is so called from the Old Norse personal name "Vili", from "vil", meaning will or desire, plus the Old Scandinavian "-bi", meaning a farm or settlement. Wilby in the county of Suffolk, is recorded as Wilebey in the Domesday Book, and derives its origin from the Olde English pre 7th century word "wilig", meaning willow, plus "beag", a ring or circle, hence, "circle of willows", whilst the Norfolk village recorded variously as Wilgeby and Willebeih in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, and has as its first element "wilig", and either "-by" or "-beag" (as above), as its second. Amongst the interesting namebearers is the recording of Robert Wilby, in the Tax Fines court rolls of Essex in 1327, whilst in April 1635, George Wilby, embarked from the port of London, on the ship "Suzan and Ellin" bound for Virgina colony. He was therefore amongst the earliest group of English settlers to the America's The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Willeby. This was dated circa 1161, in "Early Yorkshire Charters", during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. 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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